What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Consumer Protection : A vote on final passage of medical malpractice liability reform legislation (HR 4280) to rein in "frivolous" lawsuits by curtailing an individual's right to sue for medical-related damages.
 Who: All Members
[POW!]
 

To find out how your Members of Congress voted on this bill, use the form on the right.

A vote on final passage of medical malpractice liability reform legislation (HR 4280) to rein in "frivolous" lawsuits by curtailing an individual's right to sue for medical-related damages.
house Roll Call 166     May 12, 2004
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

For the fifth time in a little over a year, conservatives in the House sought to move medical malpractice liability reform legislation that they claim is needed to rein in "frivolous" lawsuits and exorbitant awards that are sending malpractice insurance premiums for doctors sky high and thereby driving doctors out of their profession -- especially those practicing particularly high-risk specialties like obstetrics. Conservatives laid this medical insurance crisis at the doorstep of "unlimited lawsuits", which they say are devastating our nation's health care system to the detriment of patients everywhere. Medical professional liability insurance rates have soared, causing major insurers to either drop coverage or raise premiums to unaffordable levels, they say. The conservative-backed bill (H.R. 4280) seeks to improve patient access to health care services and provide improved medical care by "reducing the excessive burden the liability system places on the health care delivery system." It would do so, among other ways, by capping the amount of money an injured person can sue a doctor for after being injured and capping attorneys' fees for those lawyers that would represent the injured party. But progressives argued that this legislation is just part and parcel of the conservatives' overarching legal reform agenda designed to weaken the rights of individuals seeing redress in the courts, and asserted that HR 4280 does not help the medical profession itself or patients. Rather, progressives said, the Republican bill would enrich the insurance companies of America, the health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and the manufacturers and distributors of medical products, which sometimes are defective. "In other words," said Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), "all the bad, unpleasant negative parts of our health care system are being protected. And who do we do it at the expense of? The innocent victims of medical malpractice, particularly women and children and the elderly poor." Conservatives replied that without reining in lawsuits, even individuals with health insurance will be in a fix if there are no doctors available to provide treatment. Conservatives also said that U.S. courts have become a "legal lotto system" rather than a fair system that judges meritorious claims. HR 4280 was approved 229-197, meaning an individual's right to sue for medical-related damages would be curtailed under this bill.

Issue Areas:

Find your Member of
Congress' votes

Select by Name