House Democrats Introduce Compromise Medical Malpractice Legislation
Three Democratic members of the House on Wednesday introduced a bill they said could provide a "common-sense compromise" to medical malpractice reform, CQ HealthBeat reports.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.), would set inflation-adjusted limits on noneconomic medical malpractice damages beginning at $878,000 this year, a larger sum than the $250,000 included in legislation previously passed in the House. The measure would require medical malpractice liability insurers to design and implement a plan to reduce premiums and would set sanctions for meritless litigation and repeated filing of "unfounded" lawsuits.
In addition, the bill would require the HHS secretary to establish and oversee a database that would compile physician information voluntarily submitted by state medical boards and patients, including disciplinary action taken against specific physicians by medical boards and hospitals, complaints by patients and malpractice claims paid on the doctor's behalf. Under the bill, the HHS secretary would be required to develop performance standards for state medical boards.
The legislation also would allow the U.S. attorney general to provide grants to states and health care entities to develop mediation programs as alternatives to litigation. Reps.
C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) and James Morgan (D-Va.) are co-sponsoring the legislation. The bill was expected to be reviewed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Judiciary Committee. However, the bill's "prospects remain uncertain at best" because none of the legislators is in either committee (CQ HealthBeat, 5/25).