House Bill 1215,
Bad for People, Bad for States’ Rights, Deadly for Patient Safety
“If you break it, it’s yours.”
We have all either seen or heard this statement. We know it means that you if break something, you are responsible to fix it or make it whole again. If you break a bowl in a china shop, you need to pay for it. If you break your neighbor’s window with a baseball, you need to fix the window. Our founding fathers understood this idea, too. That is why they designed a court system that guarantees each person the right to trial by jury to determine who is responsible. They knew that a democracy needs a court system that holds people both responsible and accountable. But in the bill that is currently in the House, House Bill 1215, if a medical provider operates on the wrong part of your body, he will not be held accountable.
Yep, that’s correct. House Bill 1215 if passed, will make it difficult – if not impossible — for Americans harmed by medical providers to seek justice in our nation’s courts. Congress is pushing for legislation that will make lawsuits brought by injured patients, nursing home residents, and families of loved ones injured by medical negligence nearly impossible to pursue. They are calling this the “Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017”. I call it a License to Kill, bill.
Here is what it will do, and why it is bad for people, bad for states’ rights, and deadly for patient safety.
Bad for People
- This bill, in short, rigs the system even more against individuals. It rigs the system in favor of large medical corporations and insurance companies.
- It limits compensation for non-economic injuries caused by medical providers, including doctors, nursing homes, and medical device manufacturers to $250,000. That’s it. $250,000 regardless of the injury, regardless of how devastating or painful or permanent the injury is. It does not matter if the injured is a child, the breadwinner for a family, a member of the armed forces, or a grandpa. $250,000. Period.
- If you are lucky enough to get compensation for your medical error, this bill will allow insurance companies to make payments to you versus paying you in full. So, not only will you get far less than you need to cover your expenses, you will not get the benefit of all your money at once. The insurance company will keep your money, gaining large interest payments at your expense, while you get to look forward to your monthly or bi-monthly or whatever monthly payments. And that is if they remember to pay you.
Bad for States’ Rights
- The bill imposes new federal, nationwide legal requirements for lawsuits involving health care providers, including federal requirements that violate the laws and constitutions of different states. It runs completely contrary to the conservative principle that the states should be able to govern themselves in their own affairs. The federal government has no business telling the states how their courts should operate in disputes involving their citizens.
- The bill also violates the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as it improperly interferes with (and essentially eliminates) the right to a jury trial.
Deadly for Patient Safety
- Like it or not, the ability to sue a medical provider for carelessness that causes an injury is a very big part of ensuring patient safety. It is already extremely difficult to win such lawsuits. If this law passes, it will be much, much harder. Doctors and hospitals need all the incentives possible to reduce and eliminate preventable mistakes. That includes the risk that they will be held accountable in a court of law.
- When you take away laws protecting patients, you can bet dangerous (but money-making) practices will flourish. Unnecessary surgeries will be done. Health care staffing cuts will be made. Patients will not be warned of important risks. Bad medicine will spread like a nasty hospital-acquired infection. In short, profits will be put over patients, every time.
This bill has not been enacted yet. It is time for you to make sure that it does not get passed. It is time for you to let your legislators know that this is not OK. Luckily, it does not take much time for you to make your voice heard. It will take you less than five minutes to contact your legislators and let them know that you oppose this bill. Just click on the link below. It will take you to a site where you can send a letter or a call directly to your elected officials:
To all those who have made calls and sent letters, thank you. You are helping to ensure that states’ rights are protected, the Seventh Amendment is not violated, health care providers are held accountable for their carelessness just like everyone else, and profits are not put before patients.
To those of you who haven’t gotten involved, we urge you to do so now. Once this bill is passed, there will be no going back. Once the federal government takes away rights, the states and the people don’t get them back. Let’s stop this now.