Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Nears Agreement on Vaccine Liability Bill
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee yesterday neared agreement on a bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) that would make several revisions in the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, the Los Angeles Times reports (Anderson, Los Angeles Times, 4/9). The bill, first introduced last March, would extend the statute of limitations from three to six years for families of children injured by required vaccines to file claims under VICP, which provides the families with compensation for the injuries (California Healthline, 4/3). The legislation also would increase the amount of compensation that families can receive for children's pain and suffering from $250,000 to $350,000. In addition, the legislation would allow parents to receive compensation for their own pain and suffering (Gay Stolberg, New York Times, 4/9). The bill would require parents who allege that their children experienced injuries from thimerosal, a mercury-based vaccine additive that some have linked to autism, to file compensation claims under VICP before they sue vaccine manufacturers in court (Rovner, CongressDaily/AM, 4/9). The legislation, supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics and other physician groups, "stops once and for all the frivolous lawsuits that are putting our children's future at risk," Frist said. Sens. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), ranking member of the committee, said that they were "optimistic" about an agreement on the bill, the Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 4/9). "I want to get this done. I don't want to have a bitter, acrimonious, partisan debate," Dodd said (CongressDaily/AM, 4/9). The committee will likely approve the legislation today (Los Angeles Times, 4/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.