What: All Issues : Government Checks on Corporate Power : Insurance Industry : HR 5. Caps on Malpractice Awards/Vote to Allow Consideration of a Bill to Restrict Patients' Rights By Limiting Damages in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits.
 Who: All Members
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HR 5. Caps on Malpractice Awards/Vote to Allow Consideration of a Bill to Restrict Patients' Rights By Limiting Damages in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits.
house Roll Call 61     Mar 13, 2003
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

Since taking over the House in 1995, Republicans had made seven attempts to pass caps on medical malpractice awards from juries. They argued that the growing size of jury awards was increasing the cost of medical care for everyone and driving good doctors out of medicine. This latest bill capped pain and suffering damages at $250,000, and capped punitive damages at either twice the economic damages or $250,000, whichever was greater. Progressives--and Democrats generally--agreed something needed to be done about the size of awards, but they disliked this particular approach. They argued it restricted patient rights without any promise that physicians would see lower malpractice insurance premiums. In the House, the rules for debate on a bill must be passed separately from the bill itself. Those opposed to a bill--in this case, Progressives and Democrats generally--often obstruct the rule as a means to kill the bill itself, since a bill will die if its rule does not pass. The vote at issue here was on a Republican motion to order the previous question: a way to end debate on the passage of a rule and move to voting on the rule itself. Because Progressives opposed the Republican malpractice bill and opposed its rule, they opposed ending debate on the rule and moving the process forward. They voted "no" on the motion, but it passed 225-201, with only one Democrat crossing party lines.

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