Tort Reform Ruse
Tort reform pushed by the U.S. Congress has always been a ruse. Even a publication as pro-corporation as Forbes has admitted as much. Tort reform has done nothing to lower medical malpractice insurance or the cost of healthcare, and nothing to make healthcare better or safer. The real game has always been to attack lawyers with Ad Populum fallacies in order to disguise the real target: the citizen and the citizen’s inalienable rights. H.R. 1215 is the same animal dressed up as a bill to “protect” a person’s access to healthcare.
Related: Fallacies of MedMal Tort Reform
Duplicity on Parade: “Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017”
What the so-called “Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017″ does primarily is prevent peoples’ access to the courtroom. It also severely limits payments for their injuries, even those caused by corporate negligence or outright criminality. It also virtually wipes out class action lawsuits – whether for credit card fraud committed by a major bank, rank discrimination, negligence or even outright corporate criminality. It also makes it all but financially impossible for a plaintiff’s law firm to pursue pharmaceutical drug or medical device cases for their injured or dead clients. All of this is done under the guise of saving money, but this bill doesn’t do that, either. Limiting a victim’s ability to collect fair and just compensation not only makes survival more difficult for that person, it also undermines any real accountability of the negligent party.
H.R. 1215 Violates the Constitution
The Seventh Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees your right to a civil trial by jury. Despite all its phony language about “protecting” people, H.R. 1215 is in direct violation of your Constitutional rights.
What is the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017?
The summary of the bill, H.R. 1215, reads: “To improve patient access to health care services and provide improved medical care by reducing the excessive burden the liability system places on the health care delivery system.” In short, this is a bill designed to take away your rights to a jury trial, and to limit how much compensation an injury victim can collect.
Medical Errors 3rd Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.
Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in this country. So how are your rights being “protected” if Congress limits your compensation? Is your child’s life worth just $250,000? According to Paul Ryan and other sponsors of this bill, that’s all any life is worth. This bill will not only not “protect” you and your family. It will also destroy any incentive that the medical industry has to actually fix real problems.
Tort Reform Texas Style for the Entire Country
What has happened in Texas with its Draconian “tort reform” will open the door to it happening all over the country. H.R. 1215 will preempt your state’s laws that would formerly protect you from the kinds of things that have happened to Texas patients. Texas’ king-sized ‘tort reform has helped encourage the state’s growing population of criminal doctors like Dr. Christopher Duntsch (known locally as Dr. Death); sexual molester Dr. Donald Okechukwu Ozumbages; drug addict Dr. Peter Crandall; bank robber Dr. John Christian Gunn, so incompetent and surly with patients that only the great “tort reform” state of Texas would have him as a doctor; fraud and thief Dr. Tariq Mahmood; home healthcare fraud Dr. Noble U. Ezukanma; child porn pediatrician specialist Dr. Dennis Patrick Meehan Hughes; or Texas’ own pedophile Dr. Charles Fischer.
What damage caps will H.R. 1215 put into place?
The new bill places no caps on economic damages, a small silver lining in a black cloud. It will, however, drastically limit the amount of non-economic damages you may be able to collect – and in a sneaky way, too. From the bill (excerpts in bold are ours):
“In any health care lawsuit, the amount of noneconomic damages, if available, shall not exceed $250,000, regardless of the number of parties against whom the action is brought or the number of separate claims or actions brought with respect to the same injury.”
“The jury shall not be informed about the maximum award for noneconomic damages. An award for noneconomic damages in excess of $250,000 shall be reduced either before the entry of judgment, or by amendment of the judgment after entry of judgment, and such reduction shall be made before accounting for any other reduction in damages required by law.”
“In any health care lawsuit, each party shall be liable for that party’s several share of any damages only and not for the share of any other person. Each party shall be liable only for the amount of damages allocated to such party in direct proportion to such party’s percentage of responsibility.”
More Problems with H.R. 1215
Damage caps have always been a problem, but we have deeply-rooted concerns about the rest of the bill. H.R. 1215 also stands to:
- Eliminate the class-action lawsuit
- Eliminate state laws by making all healthcare claims federal
- Let insurance companies slow-pay claims, not pay all at once
Soft Targets of H.R. 1215
For soft targets, plaintiff attorneys – those who fight for victims – will have their fees limited, but defense attorneys – those who represent the negligent parties who caused harm – have no such limitations placed on their salaries. In other words, the surgeon who hacked off the wrong leg, or the intern who mislabeled a chart and killed somebody with a drug overdose, or the doctor who missed your cancer diagnosis – their attorneys can charge whatever they want.
Why H.R. 1215 is terrible for victims and their families
This Congressional bill aims to fix a “crisis” that even medical malpractice insurers say does not exist. The Doctors Company, one of the country’s largest medical malpractice insurance providers, says, “Doctors are paying less for malpractice insurance than they did in 2001 – without any inflation adjustment. (And) the rate of claims has dropped by half since 2003.”
Despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, including years of studies, research, data collection and other hard evidence, this Congress continues to perpetuate the lie that limiting the civil justice system, in terms of which kinds of lawsuits you can bring and in how much money a victim can collect, will do anything at all to save money when it comes to health care.
Congress May Destroy Your Rights with H.R. 1215
All so-called “tort reform” has ever done is hurt more people more often. The Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017 essentially says that it doesn’t matter how severe, how catastrophic, your injuries are. Your life is worth $250,000, end of story. Is that what your life is worth? How about your child’s life? If it costs a plaintiff’s attorney $250,000 to put together a medical malpractice case (and it typically costs at least that much), and the highest possible payout is $250,000, do you think you will be able to find an attorney to represent you?
What is Your Life or Injury Worth?
Is your life is worth just $250,000? If a surgeon accidentally nicks your wife’s artery during back surgery and kills her, is that worth only $250,000 for you and your surviving children?
If a doctor fails to recommend an emergency C-section because the umbilical cord is wrapped around your unborn baby’s neck, causing permanent brain damage that requires lifetime nursing care, is that worth just $250,000?
If a doctor prescribes the wrong medication to your spouse and it kills him, is that worth only $250,000?
Whether you have ever needed a medical malpractice or a personal injury attorney or not, you would be wise to contact your Representatives today and tell them to vote “No” on H.R. 1215. The only ones who will benefit from this bill are the ones who caused you harm.
Contact your Congressional Rep by clicking this link:
Lawyers Working for People
Matthews & Associates will continue to fight against this obscenity of a bill. We have always fought for the rights of individuals to seek redress against the corporation(s) that harmed them. Our law firm’s lawyers work for people, not corporations.
To learn more about our services, contact us any time. Phone us at 888-520-5202 or email us for a free legal consultation.