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Capital Hill Watch Alert

Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-Cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2003 (H.R. 5) 

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low Cost, Timely Health Care (HEALTH) Act of 2003 (H.R. 5) as early as Thursday, March 13, 2002.This measure would change the current health care liability system, including compensation for injured patients and other issues arising out of health care lawsuits.Those affected by medical malpractice would be required to file health care lawsuits no later than three years after the date of the injury or one year after discovering the alleged malpractice, whichever comes first, according to the bill.  "Pain and suffering" damages would be capped at $250,000, while the measure requires recovery for economic damages to be unlimited.Capped at $250,000 or twice the amount of economic damages, which is even greater, would be punitive damages.†† For only the percentage of the damages for which they are at fault, the bill holds defendants liable.Also, current law to allow juries to hear evidence of payments received by plaintiffs from other sources is reformed by H.R. 5. Additionally, for manufacturers of products that are FDA-approved, with exception of those who give false or incomplete information or who make illegal payments, H.R. 5 provides a safe harbor from punitive damages.Furthermore, it allows:

1.      Overtime, periodic payment of future awards;

2.      States to pass more protective provisions that cover health care providers; and

3.      To be left in place with specific limits on damages state statutes.

The bill finally limits attorney profits on a sliding scale.Lawyers are allowed 50 percent of the first $50,000 awarded, 33.3 percent of the next $50,000 awarded, 25 percent of the next $500,000 awarded, and 15 percent of any award over $600,000 under H.R. 5.

The nationís health care system is being ravaged by a national insurance crisis.Major insurers have had to drop coverage or raise premiums to unaffordable levels as a result of medical professional liability insurance rates that have skyrocketed.Especially, in high-risk specialties such as emergency medicine, neurology, and obstetrics and gynecology, physicians and other health care providers have been forced to abandon patients and practices.Partially being hard hit are low-income neighborhoods and rural areas.

What Can You Do?

Urge your representative to SUPPORT the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low Cost, Timely Health Care (HEALTH) Act of 2002 (H.R. 5)

Contact Information:

Capitol Hill Switchboard Numbers: 202-225-3121 or 202-224-3121 (Those numbers will direct you to the Capitol Hill operator. Ask for your representative's office.)

To go to your representative's website, find his E-mail or to find out who your representatives are... http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW.html

To electronically mail your U.S. House of Representative, go to http://www.house.gov/htbin/wrep_findrep.

Addressing Correspondence:

The Honorable (full name)
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative (last name):

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