U.S. House Introduces BiPartisan Health Act of 2003

February 7, 2003

House Policy Chairman Christopher Cox (R-Calif.) and Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman James Greenwood (R-Pa.), Thursday reintroduced the Greenwood-Cox HEALTH Act, a bipartisan bill to control skyrocketing health care liability costs and ensure the availability of high quality health care for all Americans. The HEALTH Act, H.R. 5, is supported by over 65 members of Congress.

“The National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII) strongly supports this bill and appreciates the continued efforts by Congress to resolve the liability crisis presently facing our nation. As an association that has been working for medical liability reforms for years, we will continue to work with a coalition of hospitals, doctors and business groups to help document the scope of the problem and the need for reform. We will also continue to work with state and national medical associations to coordinate our efforts in this
mission to achieve meaningful reform,” Carl Parks, NAII senior vice president, government relations, commented.

“NAII is pleased that medical liability reform has been marked as a top
legislative priority in 2003. This will hopefully encourage movement in class action and asbestos reform that will ultimately restore balance to the U.S. civil justice system and benefit all consumers, businesses and the American economy,” Parks concluded.

The HEALTH Act, provides for an unlimited amount of damages for the actual economic losses in health care lawsuits. For pain and suffering damages, so-called “non-economic damages”, there is a reasonable cap of $250,000.

Furthermore, to reduce the opportunity for ‘jackpot’ type lawsuits, punitive damages are limited to two times the economic damages or $250,000, whichever is greater. The HEALTH Act also provides limitations on attorney’s fees, to reduce incentives for unnecessarily large awards by plaintiff attorneys.

Rep. Greenwood stated that if doctors’ offices are closing, without
replacement; if trauma centers face closing their doors due to the lack of available insurance, the Congress must act.

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