Republican legislators reportedly want to put a $250,000 cap on the damages plaintiffs can win from physicians in medical malpractice lawsuits, raising concerns among medical device makers.
The bill would impose new limits on lawsuits involving care covered by government health insurance programs, including some product liability suits, according to the New York Times. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the measure would constrain “frivolous lawsuits that unnecessarily drive up health care costs,” the newspaper reported, but Democrats and plaintiffs’ attorneys said they fear it would take rights away from poor and elderly patients harmed by medical mistakes.
Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the would help cut healthcare costs, increase access and save the federal government billions; the Congressional Budget Office estimated that it would cut the federal deficit by almost $50 billion over a decade, according to the newspaper. Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.)and Steve Cohen (D-Conn.) said the bill prevent victims of medical malpractice from recouping, as the restrictions would apply even to cases involving “egregious medical error,” including so-called “never events,” the paper reported.
One provision in particular is troubling for the medical device industry. The bill would bar plaintiffs from naming physicians in product liability lawsuits involving devices or drugs “approved, licensed or cleared by the Food & Drug Administration.”
“We support the overall intent of the bill, to reduce litigation burdens on the health care system,” AdvaMed spokesman Greg Crist told the newspaper. “But some of our members are concerned that the bill could actually have the opposite effect and could increase burdens on manufacturers by insulating doctors and other health care providers from any liability related to devices.”