Republican Arizona Representative Martha McSally recently penned an article for the Arizona Daily Star about why she decided to break party alliances and vote against a bill that would take away an injured victim’s right to fair compensation.
H.R. 1215, also known as the Protecting Access to Care Act, narrowly passed the House with a vote of 218-210 in late June, thanks to 19 ‘No’ votes from Republican congress members such as Ms. McSally. While voting has yet to take place in the Senate, the slim margin by which the bill passed in the House gives many hope that Senators and Representatives are trusting their gut feelings about such a restrictive bill, as well as listening to the loud voices of their constituents. The bill would only allow victims of medical error, nursing home abuse and neglect, and of medical device and prescription drug injuries no more than $250,000 in non-economic damages, frequently referred to as ‘pain and suffering.’
No Price Tag on a Life or One’s Livelihood
Rep. McSally begins her article with the story of a young baby girl named Kara. Kara’s mother had a routine pregnancy, followed by a safe delivery in 2014. Immediately after birth, a standard neonatal test revealed that Kara was at a serious risk for jaundice, but she was discharged and sent home with her mother. Already the mother to one child, Kara’s mother realized that her demeanor is not typical for a newborn. She is inconsolable and lethargic. After multiple calls to Kara’s doctor, he finally agrees to admit the infant to the hospital. The delay in treatment left baby Kara with irreversible brain damage. The entire course of Kara’s life has been changed because her physician ignored the standard of care for infants born with Kara’s condition. Kara is unable to speak, cannot walk, is dependent on nearly 24/7 care, and will require a wheelchair for the rest of her life.
Rep. McSally writes “What is the cost of her pain, suffering and emotional trauma caused by this devastating oversight? What is the cost of not being able to crawl, to walk, to ever run? You cannot put a price tag on the pain caused by a life-shattering injury, especially one that was entirely preventable, unnecessary and happened only because of another’s negligence.”
Malpractice Bill Overrides State Constitution and Citizens’ Votes
Martha McSally points out that she is not anti-doctor. In fact, she praises physicians who selflessly give to their profession and put their patients well-being above all else by following established medical standards. Her main grievance is the moral aspect of allowing the federal government to predetermine what victims should receive for mistakes that cause life-ending and future altering outcomes.
In addition to the ethical aspect, Rep. McSally points out that Arizona’s constitution expressly states that no state law should ever determine the amount an injured victim should receive. She also notes that on 3 separate occasions, Arizona voters have said NO to propositions that sought to limit non-economic damages in lawsuits. It is worth noting here that a federal law limiting non-economic damages would override any existing state law that forbids caps on damages or has set their own limit.
Those of us committed to defending and protecting victim’s rights applaud Representative McSally, as well as the other Congressmen and Congresswomen who voted against H.R. 1215.
We are proud that the majority of our Illinois state representatives voted along with Rep. McSally, including Reps. Bobby Rush (D), Robin Kelly (D), Daniel Lipinski (D), Luis Gutierrez (D), Mike Quigley (D), Danny Davis (D), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D), Jan Schakowsky (D), Bradley Schneider (D), Bill Foster (D), and Cheri Bustos (D).
You can read Martha McSally’s article for the Arizona Daily Star here.