The Republican Party’s recently published counter-proposal in response to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) shows its utter disdain for the American jury system. The Republican Party’s proposal, which it calls The Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment Act, states in Title 4: Reducing Defensive Medicine Practices And Getting Rid of Junk Lawsuits, Section 401: Medical Malpractice Reforms, in part:
Our proposal envisions adopting or incentivizing states to adopt a range of solutions to tackle the problem of junk lawsuits and defensive medicine. One crucial opportunity for medical liability reforms is to provide innovative, results-oriented solutions that offer injured patients the opportunity to receive compensation quickly and fairly without losing their access to the traditional court systems. For example, states could establish expert panels to provide an avenue for swift resolution informed by individuals qualified to evaluate the type of alleged injury. States could also elect to establish a state Administrative Health Care Tribunal, or “health court,” presided over by a judge with health care expertise who can commission experts and make the same binding rulings that a state court can make. States could also encourage settlement of medical malpractice cases sooner by adopting patient compensation system reforms modeled after worker’s compensation. Other ideas worthy of consideration include capping non-economic damages for claims tied to hospital admissions under the federal EMTALA mandate.
While the Republican Party’s nonspecific proposal promises victims of medical malpractice “the opportunity to receive compensation quickly and fairly without losing their access to the traditional court systems,” the proposal would supplant the scared position of civil juries in American jurisprudence with “expert panels” and “health courts” run by judges. The proposal makes no mention whatsoever about any effort to improve patient safety that would directly reduce the incidence and costs of medical malpractice; instead, the proposal focuses its attack on the rights of medical malpractice victims to be fairly compensated for their injuries (“capping non-economic damages for claims tied to hospital admissions”).
The Republican Party’s use of the phrase “junk lawsuits” in discussing medical malpractice “reforms” without any discussion of or reference to the catastrophic injuries suffered by innocent victims of obvious medical malpractice is a clear declaration of war on the rights of the injured in favor of insulating the personal responsibility of negligent medical providers.
Perhaps the next proposal by the Republican Party will be a re-write of the promise inscribed on the Statute of Liberty: “Give me your tired, Your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breath free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” could be changed to “Let us protect the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the rest.”
If you or a loved one may have been injured as a result of medical malpractice in the United States, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a local medical malpractice attorney in your state who may advise you of your rights and responsibilities in bringing a medical malpractice claim against a negligent medical provider.
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