The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a medical
liability bill that, if enacted, would provide Pennsylvania with a long-sought
cap on non-economic damages and limits on contingency fees. In debate before
the bill was passed on June 28, 2017, it was characterized as legislation that
“would drive down the cost of healthcare and make care more affordable to
millions of Americans across the country.”
The Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017—HR 1215—was
introduced by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa). The bill establishes provisions
governing health care lawsuits where coverage for the care was provided or
subsidized by the federal government, including through a subsidy or tax
benefit. It was noted that the bill will place checks and balances on the
excessive and frivolous lawsuits faced by doctors.
The House voted 218-210 in favor of HR 1215. All the GOP members
of Congress from Pennsylvania supported the bill, except for Reps. Costello,
Marino, and Meehan. Pennsylvania’s five Democratic members of Congress also
voted against the bill.
Given that further consideration in the U.S. Senate will
require support from 60 Senators to attain cloture, the fate of the bill in
that chamber remains uncertain.