Summary: H.R.1215 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed House amended (06/28/2017)

Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017

This bill establishes provisions governing health care lawsuits where coverage for the care was provided or subsidized by the federal government, including through a subsidy or tax benefit.

(Sec. 2) In general, the statute of limitations is three years after the occurrence of the breach or tort, three years after medical or health-care treatment for the injury is completed, or one year after the claimant discovers the injury, whichever occurs first. For a minor, the statute of limitations is three years after the occurrence of the breach or tort or three years after medical or health-care treatment for the injury is completed, whichever occurs first, except for a minor under six years old, for whom it is the later of three years after the occurrence of the breach or tort, three years after medical or health-care treatment for the injury is completed, one year after discovery of the injury, or the minor's eighth birthday. These limitations are tolled under certain circumstances. These provisions do not preempt certain state laws.

(Sec. 3) Noneconomic damages are limited to $250,000, before accounting for reductions in damages required by law. Juries may not be informed of this limitation. Parties are liable for the amount of damages directly proportional to their responsibility. These provisions do not preempt state laws that specify a particular monetary amount of damages.

(Sec. 4) Courts must supervise the payment of damages and may restrict attorney contingent fees. The bill sets limits on contingent fees. The bill does not preempt state laws that specify a lesser percentage or value of damages that may be claimed by an attorney representing a claimant.

(Sec. 5) The bill provides for periodic payment of future damage awards. The bill does not preempt state laws that mandate periodic payments.

(Sec. 6) A health care provider who prescribes, or dispenses pursuant to a prescription, a medical product approved by the Food and Drug Administration may not be a party to a product liability lawsuit or a class action lawsuit regarding the medical product.

(Sec. 8) The bill does not preempt federal vaccine injury laws.

(Sec. 9) The bill preempts federal tort laws that provide for greater amounts of damages or contingent fees, a longer statute of limitations, or reduced applicability or scope of periodic payment of future damages.

(Sec. 10) The bill applies to health care lawsuits initiated after enactment. Lawsuits are governed by the statue of limitations applicable at the time of injury.

(Sec. 11) The bill establishes limitations on expert-witness testimony by a health-care professional who was not licensed to practice or had not practiced, in the state or a contiguous bordering state, a relevant profession or specialty during the year preceding the date of the alleged injury or wrongful act.

(Sec. 12) Certain provider communications shall be inadmissible as evidence of an admission of liability or as evidence of an admission against interest in a health-care liability action. These provisions do not preempt state laws making additional communications inadmissible as evidence.

(Sec. 13) The bill specifies additional qualifications for expert witnesses in health-care liability actions. These provisions do not preempt state laws placing additional qualification requirements upon individuals testifying as expert witnesses.

(Sec. 14) The bill establishes requirements for the filing of an affidavit of merit. These provisions do not preempt state laws establishing additional requirements for pre-litigation documentation.

(Sec. 15) The bill establishes requirements for the provision of advance notice of intent to commence a health-care lawsuit against a provider. These provisions do not preempt state laws establishing different time periods for the filing of written notice.