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Malpractice Bill Ready for Full House

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, May 13, 2011

A bill which would impose a limit on the medical liability costs paid by healthcare providers, passed through the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee late Wednesday night.

 In a 30-20 vote in favor of H.R. 5, mostly along party lines, the committee placed a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages. Democrats presented more than 10 amendments to the bill but were denied.  

A House vote has not yet been scheduled. The bill will face stiff opposition in the Senate and President Obama is known to oppose caps on damages.

Stakeholders are divided along typical lines with the American Medical Association and American Hospital Associations in support of H.R.5 while consumer advocates and the American Bar Associations opposed the bill.

In a February letter to the committee, Thomas Susman, director of the ABA, challenged the limit on compensatory damages saying “patients should not be told that, due to an arbitrary limit, they will be deprived of the compensation determined by a fair and impartial jury.“

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