House-approved bill to limit malpractice awards will help LTC 'when we need it the most,' group says

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House lawmakers voted Wednesday to advance legislation that would benefit the LTC sector
House lawmakers voted Wednesday to advance legislation that would benefit the LTC sector

House lawmakers voted on Wednesday to advance legislation that would place limits on awards and attorneys fees for medical malpractice cases — a move that would benefit the long-term care sector in today's turbulent healthcare climate, according to one provider group.

H.R. 1215, known as the Protecting Access to Care Act, would place a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages in healthcare-related lawsuits where coverage of the care was provided by the federal government. The act passed the House with a 218-210 vote; all 191 Democratic representatives opposed the bill, along with 19 Republicans.

The bill has earned praise for long-term care providers, with one group stating that its House passage couldn't come at a better time.

“Rising liability costs to an already underfunded sector not only threaten access to care but can also cost jobs,” said Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living. “This legislation helps at a time when we need it the most. Now more than ever, it's important to preserve dwindling resources to improve the lives of those who need it and deserve better.”

The legislation didn't receive as warm of a reception from attorney groups, who fear the legislation prioritizes providers' interests while jeopardizing patient care.

“H.R. 1215 shamefully protects negligent medical providers, abusive nursing home corporations, and careless drug companies when they place profits ahead of quality care,” said Julie Braman Kane, president of the American Association for Justice, in a statement. “Each year, 440,000 Americans lose their lives due to preventable medical errors. If this bill becomes law, victims and their loved ones will be unable to hold those responsible accountable. Without accountability, every American is at risk.”