After our attorneys contacted Illinois Senator Dick Durbin to urge him to oppose H.R. 1215, the Protecting Access to Care Act, we were happy to receive an email acknowledging our concerns. In addition to thanking us for taking the time to reach out to him, Senator Durbin shared several items that we know to be true regarding medical malpractice. Namely, that medical malpractice costs account for less than 3% of all healthcare expenditures, that 6% of physicians are responsible for 60% of all medical malpractice lawsuits, and that medical error is the 3rd leading cause of death in this country.
Senator Durbin reinforces what we already know about healthcare and our legal system: medical malpractice lawsuits are not responsible for the high cost of healthcare and limiting the ability of victims to seek justice for injury from medical errors is a violation of our rights.
We would like to thank Senator Durbin for recognizing and sharing in our fight against H.R. 1215.
Our attorneys would like to share the contents of his letter with you:
Thank you for contacting me about the Protecting Access to Care Act (H.R. 1215). I appreciate hearing from you.
Introduced by Representative Steve King of Iowa, the Protecting Access to Care Act would reduce the statute of limitations for health care lawsuits to three years after the date of injury. Non-economic damages awarded would be limited to $250,000 or less, no matter the number of parties in the lawsuit. Health care providers who prescribe FDA approved products would be protected from any lawsuits involving those products. No companion bill has been introduced in the Senate.
Proponents of reforming our medical liability system contend that we should establish limits on medical negligence settlements to prevent meritless lawsuits and reduce health care costs. However, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that malpractice costs amounted to less than three percent of overall health care spending. Additionally, nearly 70 percent of all medical negligence lawsuits result in no settlement. An estimated six percent of doctors are responsible for 60 percent of all medical negligence that result in claims. The justice system is our only effective means of holding these doctors accountable.
According to the Institute of Medicine, preventable medical errors kill as many as 98,000 Americans every year and injure countless more. Medical errors are the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
The Protecting Access to Care Act has been referred to the House Judiciary and Energy and Commerce Committee. I will keep your concerns about this legislation in mind should the Senate consider similar legislation.
Thank you again for contacting me. Please feel free to keep in touch.
Richard J. Durbin
United States Senator