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Press Release

AAJ Statement on Markup of Bill to Undermine Patient Safety and Eliminate Access to the Courts

February 28,2017

Washington, DC - The following is a statement from American Association for Justice President Julie Braman Kane on today’s markup of the “Protecting Access to Care Act” [H.R. 1215], which would severely limit the ability of Americans and their families to hold health care and medical providers accountable if they injure and kill patients:

"This insulting proposal does nothing to help Americans access safe, affordable health care. Instead, H.R. 1215 would punish patients who are injured or killed by even the intentional acts of a health care provider.”

“H.R. 1215 would protect an astonishingly broad range of dangerous health care providers, including medical professionals who sexually assault patients, nursing homes that neglect and abuse their residents, and pharmaceutical manufacturers that market deadly drugs and devices. Americans injured by these services and products deserve access to justice, but this bill will force people to suffer without any avenue to hold those responsible accountable.”

“States should have the right to decide how to best protect their citizens through patient safety liability laws, but H.R. 1215 is a sweeping federal takeover of this important state function. It is shameful that members of this committee went to unprecedented lengths to reject Rep. Hank Johnson’s amendment to preserve states’ rights and prevent the unconstitutional federalization of our health care liability system.”

H.R. 1215 would apply to a broad range of claims including those involving injuries caused by medical negligence, defective medical devices, dangerous pharmaceuticals, and nursing home neglect and abuse. The bill includes a federal cap on non-economic damages, imposes a federal statute of limitations for most claims, restricts attorneys’ fees, and grants blanket immunity to health care providers who prescribe a drug or device that was at any point approved by the FDA – even if that drug or device has since been proven to be dangerous.

Sarah Jones