Let Freedom Ring Must Reads

House GOP Pulls Medical Malpractice Bill Over Concerns About Violating States’ Rights
By John Wilkerson

House Republicans postponed a floor vote on medical malpractice legislation because some conservatives are worried about imposing federal standards on states, according to Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows (R-NC). Tort reform is one of many issues that House Republicans had wanted to address in the American Health Care Act but were forced to deal with separately because of budget rules. The president’s 2018 budget request also calls for medical malpractice reform.

“I think there are some federal nexus issues that some of us have expressed concerns about,” Meadows told Inside Health Policy when asked why the House pulled H.R. 1215 from the list of bills that were voted on Thursday.

On Monday, the House Republicans touted four bills they planned to vote on this week in an email with the subject line “Phase 3 Continues.” When House Republicans were negotiating the AHCA, they devised a three-phase plan to explain to the public why they weren’t addressing all their health reform proposals at once. The first phase is the AHCA, a budget reconciliation bill that avoids a filibuster in the Senate but that may not include many of the measures Republicans wanted to include. Phase 2 refers to administrative measures that undermine the ACA, and legislation that isn’t allowed in budget reconciliation makes up phase 3.

The plan was for the House to vote each day this week on one of the phase 3 bills. “The House will not dawdle as the American Health Care Act makes its way through the Senate,” the release states.

The House canceled votes on Wednesday due to the shooting at a GOP softball practice, but when they returned to voting on Thursday, the medical malpractice bill was no longer scheduled for a vote.

“I think there’s some clarifying language that can help,” Meadows said when asked why Freedom Caucus members are worried about the implications for states rights, though he did not say how it could be fixed.

A measure already was added to the bill stating that it does not preempt state laws that allow larger awards than the legislation’s $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice suits. It’s not clear what else could be added to the bill to placate Republicans who don’t think the federal government should dictate tort restrictions to states.

 

John Wilkerson (jwilkerson@iwpnews.com)

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