The experienced medical malpractice attorneys of Passen & Powell have repeatedly spoken out against HR 5, the anti-patient legislation currently pending in the U.S. House of Representatives. Last week in Roll Call, a widely read publication in Washington, DC, other patient rights advocates spoke out strongly against the bill as well.
HR 5 bears the title, the “Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare Act.” In reality, the only aim of HR 5 is to bar victims of negligence and malpractice from obtaining justice and recovering from wrongdoers for their injuries. HR 5 targets not only victims of medical malpractice, but also those seriously injured or killed by nursing home abuse and neglect, or by dangerous medical products, including pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices.
The House of Representatives has already voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as ObamaCare), although as the Senate has not followed suit, the Act remains law. But the House promised to pass a bill that would also reform healthcare and provide for the needs of patients and the public.
Instead, they have given us HR 5.
Experience with “tort reform” at the state level has now taught us that eliminating the rights of medical malpractice victims does nothing to reduce medical costs or malpractice premiums. As Gibson Vance, president of the American Association of Justice, noted in Roll Call, one out of every three hospital patients in the U.S. is the victim of medical error. At least 98,000 Americans lose their lives each year due to medical malpractice – preventable medical mistakes.
Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers cannot help but wonder, then, why removing responsibility from those who fail to take the precautions necessary to prevent these deaths could be sound federal policy. The current death rate is is the equivalent of two 737 jets crashing every day. It is inconceivable that if those crashes were occurring, Congress would be taking action to protect the airlines and airplane manufacturers from liability, and thus decrease passenger safety.
And, as Vance persuasively argued, the same house leadership advancing HR 5 has repeatedly and publicly argued that under the U.S. Constitution, the federal government must take a limited role, respect the limits of the power granted to it, and respect the rights of the states. HR 5 flies in the face of this reasoning, dramatically expanding federal power and usurping an area of law that has historically been the province of the states.
While House leaders argue that this expansion is justified under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, they likewise point to the Commerce Clause as the reason why ObamaCare must be repealed. The truth is that there is no consistent reasoning or interpretation at work here – they will point to the Commerce Clause to support what they support, and to undermine what they do not.
The ordinary citizens are the ones who stand to lose the most from this lack of principle. HR 5, and its stripping of victims rights, would remove accountability from our medical providers, leaving healthcare in the United States dramatically more dangerous than its already troublesome state. Under HR 5, physicians, hospitals, and other providers would have far less incentive to improve safety and reduce errors, and those injured would have no real recourse in the courts. A fine federal policy, indeed.
The top malpractice attorneys of Passen & Powell stand with Vance and the American Association for Justice. We oppose HR 5, and any other federal or state attempt to deny justice to those who are injured. We urge Congress to abandon HR 5, and instead to focus on reducing malpractice premiums by reducing malpractice – improving patient safety.
For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago medical malpractice lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.