Current Events

Time to Call Your Representative on HR 1215!

27 March 2017 – The Bill You Need to Be Informed On that Isn’t Making the News!

A week ago, all the news was focused the House of Representatives’ HR 1628, American Health Care Act of 2017. By weeks end, with lots of negotiations, the support for a partial repeal was simply not there and the House leadership decided not to hold the vote.  Sometimes an initial effort has to fail in order to get everyone to the negotiating table to draft a better solution.  I believe for the GOP’s goal of repeal and replace Obamacare, this is the case here.

A piece of legislation that you may not know about but should is H.R.1215 – Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017 which was introduced by Rep. Steve King and three others, “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.”

There is a long standing thought in the GOP, driving in part by the medical trade associations, that setting limits on the rights of patients to sue their physicians will lower medical malpractice insurance and improve access to health services.  It seems odd for the GOP to promote this given it infringes on state’s rights and that it infringes personal liberty.  I have not studied the malpractice insurance rates pre and post liability reform in the states to see if the rates actually went down.

The bill has swiftly moved through both the House Judiciary and the House Energy and Commerce Committee and placed on the calendar for a floor vote.  There are a number of provisions about this Bill that are concerning – including statue of limitations and the federal government establishing fee arrangement limits for attorneys – making the judge of a case the arbiter.  Most problematic for me is the following language:

A health care provider who prescribes, or who dispenses pursuant to a prescription, a medical product approved, licensed, or cleared by the Food and Drug Administration shall not be named as a party to a product liability lawsuit involving such product and shall not be liable to a claimant in a class action lawsuit against the manufacturer, distributor, or seller of such product.

This is a problem for a number of reasons.  First, we have too much ‘cookie cutter medicine’, in which every patient gets treated exactly alike rather than a focus on personalized medicine.  There is a clear record showing that just because the FDA approves a drug or device, does not mean it is safe.  Furthermore, there are numerous examples of corruption in the process – Rezulin and Vioxx come to mind.

Entirely too many health providers (doctors, dentists, etc.) have financial ties to the companies who produce these FDA ‘approved, licensed or cleared products.  If they have liability protection, consumers loose an important check and balance in their health care interchange with their providers.  (And keep in mind Big Pharma has tried previously and may try again to have the FDA approval process protect them from liability as well.)

An outright opposition to this legislation is my first thought.  I have thought through whether a caveat inserted that the provider cannot have any financial gain from the product (i.e. a patent, licensing fee, stock ownership, having accepted speaking fees, travel, products, etc.) from the company whose product is in question could be a solution, but do not think that would work.  The great challenge with such a caveat is gathering the evidence.  I am aware of many doctors who publish and are not honest in posting their conflicts of interest – and those who often appear in the news who do not disclose their ties to industry as well.

At the end of the day, this bill,  I do not believe will fix anything in the health care system and undermines patient’s rights to seek legal recourse, and abridges liberty!

If you care about this issue, call and email your Representative today!

#HR1215 #HealthFreedom #Liberty #ProtectPatientsRights