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U.S. House Passes Medical Liability Bill Which Seeks to Cap Non-Economic Damages

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. 

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