House medical liability bill would reduce deficit by $57 billion

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted May 30, 2011

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A medical liability reform bill approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on May 11 would reduce the federal deficit by $57 billion over a decade, according to a Congressional Budget Office cost estimate released on May 23. The measure would cap noneconomic damages in medical lawsuits at $250,000, establish a three-year statute of limitations for most medical lawsuits, and exempt products approved by the Food and Drug Administration from being subject to punitive damages in lawsuits, among other changes.

The deficit reduction would arise from reduced medical liability premiums and more limited use of health care services by physicians and others who feel less pressure from potential medical lawsuits.

The CBO deficit reduction estimate for the Energy and Commerce bill is $17 billion higher than for the version of the measure approved by the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 16. That's primarily because the Energy and Commerce version would allow defendants to introduce in court evidence of the plaintiff's secondary income, bypassing a restriction known as the collateral source rule.

The House measure -- introduced by Rep. Phil Gingrey, MD (R, Ga.) -- is known as the HEALTH Act. The bill has 134 co-sponsors.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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