H.R. 4771, also known as Help Efficient, Accessible, Low Cost, Timely Health
Care (HEALTH) Act of 2016 is back. In 2005, the same bill was passed by
the House of Representatives.
Due to the way HEALTH was drafted, injured patients and their families
are limited in regards to the ability they have to hold health care and
medical products providers accountable. In addition, the bill would limit
measures placed against for-profit nursing homes, insurance and pharmaceutical
industries and against doctors who commit intentional torts. Congress
should prioritize patient protection above insurance and pharmaceutical
industries, but that isn’t the case with H.R. 4771.
Will it Help The Economy?
Supporters of HEALTH believe that the bill is necessary for creating jobs
and will help the economy grow, but the truth is that job creation has
never been used as a justification for H.R. 4771 – until now. Under
this legislation, medical professionals and providers cannot be held fully
responsibly for cases of medical negligence. This so-called “incentive”
for job growth puts a patient’s wellbeing at risk.
Will it Control Defensive Medicine Costs?
In 2014, less than a quarter of a penny went towards patients who were
victims of medical negligence. Additionally, there are no grounds to conclude
that defensive medicine not only exists, but is a contributing factor
to the rising cost of healthcare. The system put in place encourages self-referrals,
which will cause an increase in health care costs.
The Reforms of H.R. 4771
A 2014 study done by researchers at Northwestern University and the University
of Illinois found that while tort system changes had no impact on hospital-based
spending, it caused a 4-5 percent increase in physician service spending.
It was concluded that the reforms outlined in H.R. 4771 would increase
costs and reduce health care quality.
Some of the reforms contained in H.R. 4771 include:
Reduced statute of limitations: The legislation reduces the amount of time an injured patient has to
file a lawsuit and would cut off claims involving diseases that were asymptomatic
for an extended period of time.
$250,000 cap on non-economic damages: There is a limit placed on non-economic damages, regardless of the number
of parties involved. Non-economic damages compensate patients for serious
injuries such as fertility loss and loss of a limb or sight.
Severe restrictions on contingent fees: With H.R. 4771, the court has power to restrict the plaintiff’s
attorney fees – regardless of whether the recovery is by settlement,
judgment or alternative dispute resolution.
Pursuing mass tort legal action can be a complicated process. Our Greenville
personal injury lawyers have 95 years of combined experience and are committed
to guiding you through every step of the legal process. Call Christian
& Davis LLC today at (864) 408-8890 to learn more about your case.