A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but tort reform still smells bad to traditional opponents despite an attractive title. That’s why most observers believe that the House-passed “Protecting Access to Care Act,” H.R. 1215, is going nowhere.
Opponents don’t oppose the goal of protecting access to care. They oppose the means employed by the bill: limitations on medical malpractice lawsuits, including caps on damages and plaintiff attorney fees. Provisions include a statute of limitations as short as one-year from discovery of the injury, a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages, and a sliding-scale limit on attorney fees declining from 40% of the first $50,000 to 15% of amounts above $600,000.
The bill passed the House with no Democratic support and opposition by 19 Republicans. No senator has sponsored a companion bill. Despite support by the White House, the bill is seen as unpopular with conservative senators, who believe it’s an intrusion of federal authority into state law.