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The Great Smoky Mountain Journal

Staff Reports

Posted: Sunday, January 21, 2018 03:50 PM

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Dr. Phil Roe On Protecting Access To Care Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.) released the following statement on the introduction of H.R. 1215, the Protecting Access to Care Act:

“I’m proud to support the Protecting Access to Care Act, which makes meaningful changes to medical malpractice litigation and aims to lower healthcare costs. As a physician, I’ve seen first-hand the endless amount of lawsuits that can be brought against doctors, which results in defensive medicine, drives up cost, and limits access to care. Tennessee has enacted similar reforms in the past decade, which have significantly lowered medical malpractice premiums and helped ensure patients’ continued access to care. Additionally, in Tennessee, 50 cents of every dollar paid out in litigation went to trial attorneys, and only 40 cents of every dollar went to patients. By passing this legislation today, we are helping to ensure that patients will receive the bulk of the compensation in legitimate medical malpractice cases.

“Additionally, I offered an amendment based on Tennessee’s own reforms that was adopted by the House that would restrict expert witnesses called in these trials to qualified professionals from the state where the lawsuit arose or a contiguous state. No one knows the professionals and people of an area like folks who live and work there, and based on this and other reforms, we have seen the average medical malpractice premiums fall significantly in Tennessee, which preserves patients’ access to care, particularly in high-risk specialties like obstetrics, cardiology, and neurology.

“I thank Chairman Goodlatte and Rep. King for their leadership in reforming medical malpractice laws in a commonsense way in order to maintain strong protections for patients.”

BACKGROUND: With the rising costs of medical care, the costs of medical malpractice lawsuits are steadily increasing as well. According to a GAO report, the cause of skyrocketing medical professional liability premiums are the rising litigation awards. The Protecting Access to Care Act caps noneconomic damages at $250,000 and limits contingency fees that lawyers can charge, but does not restrict in any way the economic damages an individual can receive. The Congressional Budget Office estimates these changes will save taxpayers $50 billion over 10 years.