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Proposed Legislation Would Limit Non-Economic Damages in Certain Medical Malpractice Suits

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Republicans in the House of Representatives have drafted a bill as part of their Affordable Care Act (ACA) replacement that would impose new limits on lawsuits involving care covered by Medicare, Medicaid or private health insurance subsidized by the ACA. The limits would apply to medical malpractice lawsuits and certain product liability claims. The bill, H.R. 1215, would set a $250,000 limit on non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. There would be no limit to the recovery of economic damages. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bill would reduce federal budget deficits by almost $50 billion over 10 years.

The bill also states that a health care provider who prescribes a drug or medical device that was approved, licensed or cleared by the FDA cannot be named as a party to a product liability lawsuit involving the product. In addition, a provider cannot be liable to a claimant in a class action lawsuit against the manufacturer, distributor or seller of the product.  The bill would also restrict the contingency fees that attorneys receive in such health care lawsuits.

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