The SUMMARY OF MEDICARE ACT OF 2003.pdf requires the president to submit legislation to remedy Medicare’s money problems. Mixed up in this formula is the dangerous prospect that a tort reform provision will be attached that would severely limit the rights of citizens to bring Illinois medical negligence claims against doctors, hospitals, nurses and clinicians who may be responsible for injuring patients.
Tort reform or “deform”, as some opponents refer to it, has been enacted into law in many states, usually only to limit the ability of the injured to bring Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits. In 2005 Illinois fell to tort reform in medical negligence cases only, the constitutionality of which is now being challenged. A test case succeeded in the Circuit Court of Cook County, where Judge Larson found the law to be unconstitutional. Currently that circuit court decision is being appealed and a decision by the Illinois Supreme Court is due later this year on the validity of that act.
The requirement for legislation is triggered when Medicare funding exceeds 45% by the general revenues for two consecutive years. The act also requires the majority and minority leaders of the Senate and the House to submit their own bills for consideration.
The House bill includes the tired, worn medical malpractice provisions that had been rejected before: $250,000 cap on non-economic damages, the elimination of joint liability, restrictions of punitive damages, limits on fees for lawyers, and a shortened statute of limitations for filing cases. The idea here by the Bush administration is to apply these provisions to “any heath care lawsuit, thus effecting all medical malpractice cases, not just those involving Medicare patients”.
This is onerous to those injured or killed by acts of medical negligence. It’s shameful to punish those who were innocently injured this way, but have no restriction on the amount of money a corporation or insurance can recover in one of its lawsuits. It’s shameful that other citizens injured in a truck accident would likewise have no such restrictions, when our friends, families and neighbors are limited by such an arbitrary set of laws, designed only to protect those who inflicted the harm.
The U.S. House and Senate committees considering the Medicare bill are required by the trigger law to report Medicare funding legislation out of committee to their respective chambers by June 30. The House is required to vote on final passage by July 30. Check back here for continued updates on this bill over the course of the next two months.
Similar blog posts: