Congress: Support National Medical Liability Reforms
For the past two decades, ASPS has worked with the Health Coalition on Liability and Access (HCLA) to advance federal medical liability reforms that protect physicians and, in turn, patients. The Coalition includes several specialty organizations, the American Medical Association and numerous medical professional liability organizations, and together these groups are working to advance the Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act and the Accessible Care by Curbing Excessive lawSuitS Act.
The Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act would shield healthcare professionals from liability under federal or state law for harm caused by any act or omission if: (1) the professional is serving as a volunteer in response to a disaster; and (2) the act or omission occurs during the period of the disaster, in the professional's capacity as a volunteer, and in good faith belief that the individual being treated is in need of healthcare services. This measure, which aims to increase the number of healthcare professionals who would be willing and able to volunteer their services in times of disaster, is sponsored by Senator Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA), a gastroenterologist, and awaits reintroduction in the House of Representatives. ASPS sent Sen. Cassidy a letter supporting the measure and offered our support to advance this important legislation through Congress so that physicians and other healthcare professionals do not have to worry about being held liable while volunteering during times of great need across state borders. The bill awaits consideration by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.
In the House, the Accessible Care by Curbing Excessive lawSuitS (ACCESS) Act would provide increased protections for physicians by creating a three-year statute of limitations from the date of injury or one year following the date of discovery, requiring expert medical witnesses who practice in the same specialty being evaluated in the case, exempting providers from liability suits involving FDA-approved products, and capping noneconomic damages. Prior to the bill's introduction, ASPS members who attended the 2019 Advocacy Summit asked their representatives in the House to sign on as cosponsors pending introduction. Upon introduction by its legislative champion Representative Richard Hudson (R-NC-8) on July 9, the Society sent a letter expressing gratitude for his sponsorship of the bill and offered support to move the bill through Congress. The bill awaits further consideration by the House Energy & Commerce and Judiciary Committees.