June 13, 2017

Another Way to Dismantle the Affordable Care Act

The House is voting to weaken accountability of healthcare provided through federal programs, subsidies, or tax benefits.

by Caitlin Martin

Peel Memorial Hospital Under Demolition — Nicholas Moreau

H.R. 1215 — Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017

Sounds good, right? Depends on your point of view.

H.R. 1215 introduces a number of provisions to reduce healthcare costs. These provisions apply to people insured by the Affordable Care Act, health plans for veterans and current service members, and people on Medicaid and Medicare. This bill comes up for a vote in the House during the week of 06/12/2017. Here are a few of its provisions:

  • A federally-mandated $250,000 cap on compensation for “non-economic injuries” (for example, paralysis, trauma, reproductive harm). This cap would be mandated even in states that have declared caps like this unconstitutional. The cap applies under every imaginable circumstance where an injury is sustained due to unsafe medical care, including parents who lose a child, a family breadwinner permanently disabled, or a senior harmed in a nursing home.
  • A federally-mandated statue of limitations — this restricts the amount of time during which a lawsuit for injury can be filed. This time period is much shorter than that of most state laws.
  • Federal repeal of all state collateral source rules. This means that an obligation to compensate a patient can be reduced by the amount of disability insurance, workman’s compensation, or other insurance.
  • A federally-mandated repeal of liability laws that will result in injured patients covering the cost of an injury if one of those deemed liable are unable to pay.
  • A federally-mandated limit on a person’s right to contract with their own attorney on fees. No such limit would be imposed on the insurance company or hospital that committed the malpractice.
  • A federally-mandated ban that excludes hospitals, nursing home, or health care providers from being held liable in a case that also includes allegations against a drug company, even if the provider was negligent in their prescription or administration of the drug and is also responsible for the cause of injury or death.
  • A federally-mandated prohibition against an injured patient receiving access to the full award decided upon by a jury in a lump sum.
  • Here’s the whole bill:

Text of H.R. 1215: Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017 (Reported by House Committee version) - GovTrack.us

Support and Opposition

H.R. 1215 is sponsored by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and co-sponsored by Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX), Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). They and their supporters argue that this legislation curbs health care cost growth by reducing liability. Rep. King said in committee:

“Just imagine what savings would occur if such reforms were attached to all federal health programs, as this bill would do. This bill goes a long way to respect states’ rights and give states the authority to raise or lower the cap for non-economic damages.”

Here’s a letter filed in support of the bill:

https://medium.com/media/b8037d3920f6e14b6c625f2423a99ff3/href

Those who oppose the bill say that the claim that malpractice insurance and defensive medicine drive up health care costs are largely unsubstantiated and that this bill harms patients’ rights. They also note that malpractice costs as a percentage of total health care spending have been decreasing substantially. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) argued that:

“This bill would cause real harm by severely limiting the ability of victims to be made whole … The bill’s $250,000 aggregate limit for non-economic damages — an amount established more than 40 years ago pursuant to a California statute — would have a particularly adverse impact on women, children, the poor, and other vulnerable members of society. These groups are more likely to receive non-economic damages in health care cases because they are less able to establish lost wages and other economic losses.”

Here’s a letter filled in opposition to the bill:

https://medium.com/media/90ef254b63b45fd37caaf91815ed93d0/href

Tell Congress what you think about H.R. 1215!

Text RESIST to 50409 to tell your representatives what you think about this, or see what else is happening this week:

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