Shouldn’t Congress Try to Save Lives of Americans? | Searcy Denney

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John Hopkins

Shouldn’t Congress Try to Save Lives of Americans?

» Written by // March 1, 2017 //


What kills between 250,000 and 440,000 people in the United States each year; 700 deaths per day?

What is the third leading cause of death in America?

Isn’t it one of the responsibilities of the US Congress to institute laws or take other action that would reduce those deaths?

What is causing all these deaths (without considering the injuries)?

Medical negligence. Medical malpractice.

Doctor after unsuccessful surgery talking with patient's family member

Congress wants to take patient rights

So, one might reasonably expect that Congress would try to save some of the 440,000 people dying due to mistakes by healthcare professionals. If you expect that, you would be wrong.

In fact, Congress is currently debating a law that would likely make those deaths increase, rather than decrease. At best, Congress intends to remove any economic motivation from health care professionals for improving their error ratios.

Statistics tell us that lawsuits are a strong motivator for health care professionals and particularly hospitals to try harder to avoid mistakes (negligence) that can kill and injure people. Hospitals and nursing homes have a history of understaffing where legislatures pass laws to insulate them from claims.

In addition, Congress has bought into the mix the lie that “defensive medicine” is a problem. What insurance companies attribute as increased costs from “defensive medicine” is simply good medical practice that saves lives every day, but for which insurance companies do not want to have to pay.

H.R. 1215 is a bill in the House that will destroy all but the moral incentives that corporate medicine has to prevent people from dying. The highpoints of the law – the low points if you care about patients’ death – are:

  • There is a $250,000 cap on human damages. Pain and suffering — loss of the life of a person you love.
  • Collateral source reductions, including reductions for what is guessed an injured person “might” need in the future. Defendants will not be required to pay for damages they caused, if they are covered by insurance, Medicare or Social Security.
  • Future damages paid by periodic payments at the request of either party. The injured person does not receive payment of their damages all at once; they will have to wait to allow the defendants to pay them anything over $50,000 over a period of 5, 10, 20 or 30 years, for example.
  • No liability for doctors for defective drug/product cases. If a doctor implants a medical device, even one the doctor has heard may be defective, there is no liability on the part of the doctor for that bad decision.
  • Economic damages limited in the past and future to amounts actually paid.
  • Defines health care lawsuit as any claim concerning the provision of goods or services, including medical products; immunizing doctors on one hand causing the case to be transferred to federal court to pursue the product manufacturer.
  • Eliminates state law in favor of federal law, unless specified; taking away the rights of states to regulate this as they see fit.
  • Unreasonably low caps on attorney fees – averaging out to around 15%.
  • Does not eliminate state law as it relates to defenses available if those defenses provide more protection to the defendants.

What else?

Some effects of this legislation will be that those injured or killed by medical malpractice will be unable to find an attorney to prosecute their case. Law firms will not be able to afford to carry the significant costs associated with the prosecution of a lawsuit.

Increases in private insurance costs, Medicare, and Social Security can be expected while those who cannot seek recovery from the people who injured them must find a way to pay for their medical costs. In many cases those medical costs can run into the millions of dollars.

The incentive for medical device and drug manufacturers to produce safe products will be reduced to the Food & Drug Administration; an agency funded mostly by the drug and medical device industries. The threat of lawsuits to keep manufacturers from choosing profits over patients will be eliminated.

Injured people will not be compensated in a way that will allow them to pay for medical care or living expenses because the defendants can require the amount awarded by a jury or for which the defendant settled be paid out over time. Anything over $50,000 might be paid out over a year or 50 years – we do not know since the bill leaves that decision up to a judge.

There are more destructive effects of this law.

This is the sort of bill that Congress uses to pay back special interests to whom they are heavily indebted to for campaign funds. They draft these rewards and slap outrageous names on them, like:

H.R 1215 – “Protecting Access to Care of 2017”

Go to https://democracy.io/#/

Find your Congressman and tell them to vote “NO” on this bill. It is bad for all Americans – the people they work for.


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