Home > 106th Congressional Bills > H.R. 5 (enr) To amend title II of the Social Security Act to eliminate the earnings test for individuals who have attained retirement age. [Enrolled bill] ...

H.R. 5 (enr) To amend title II of the Social Security Act to eliminate the earnings test for individuals who have attained retirement age. [Enrolled bill] ...

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  1st Session
                                 H. R. 5


                                 AN ACT

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.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This Act may be cited as the ``Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-
cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2003''.


    (a) Findings.--
            (1) Effect on health care access and costs.--Congress finds 
        that our current civil justice system is adversely affecting 
        patient access to health care services, better patient care, 
        and cost-efficient health care, in that the health care 
        liability system is a costly and ineffective mechanism for 
        resolving claims of health care liability and compensating 
        injured patients, and is a deterrent to the sharing of 
        information among health care professionals which impedes 
        efforts to improve patient safety and quality of care.
            (2) Effect on interstate commerce.--Congress finds that the 
        health care and insurance industries are industries affecting 
        interstate commerce and the health care liability litigation 
        systems existing throughout the United States are activities 
        that affect interstate commerce by contributing to the high 
        costs of health care and premiums for health care liability 
        insurance purchased by health care system providers.
            (3) Effect on federal spending.--Congress finds that the 
        health care liability litigation systems existing throughout 
        the United States have a significant effect on the amount, 
        distribution, and use of Federal funds because of--
                    (A) the large number of individuals who receive 
                health care benefits under programs operated or 
                financed by the Federal Government;
                    (B) the large number of individuals who benefit 
                because of the exclusion from Federal taxes of the 
                amounts spent to provide them with health insurance 
                benefits; and
                    (C) the large number of health care providers who 
                provide items or services for which the Federal 
                Government makes payments.
    (b) Purpose.--It is the purpose of this Act to implement 
reasonable, comprehensive, and effective health care liability reforms 
designed to--
            (1) improve the availability of health care services in 
        cases in which health care liability actions have been shown to 
        be a factor in the decreased availability of services;
            (2) reduce the incidence of ``defensive medicine'' and 
        lower the cost of health care liability insurance, all of which 
        contribute to the escalation of health care costs;
            (3) ensure that persons with meritorious health care injury 
        claims receive fair and adequate compensation, including 
        reasonable noneconomic damages;
            (4) improve the fairness and cost-effectiveness of our 
        current health care liability system to resolve disputes over, 
        and provide compensation for, health care liability by reducing 
        uncertainty in the amount of compensation provided to injured 
        individuals; and
            (5) provide an increased sharing of information in the 
        health care system which will reduce unintended injury and 
        improve patient care.


    The time for the commencement of a health care lawsuit shall be 3 
years after the date of manifestation of injury or 1 year after the 
claimant discovers, or through the use of reasonable diligence should 
have discovered, the injury, whichever occurs first. In no event shall 
the time for commencement of a health care lawsuit exceed 3 years after 
the date of manifestation of injury unless tolled for any of the 
            (1) upon proof of fraud;
            (2) intentional concealment; or
            (3) the presence of a foreign body, which has no 
        therapeutic or diagnostic purpose or effect, in the person of 
        the injured person.
Actions by a minor shall be commenced within 3 years from the date of 
the alleged manifestation of injury except that actions by a minor 
under the full age of 6 years shall be commenced within 3 years of 
manifestation of injury or prior to the minor's 8th birthday, whichever 
provides a longer period. Such time limitation shall be tolled for 
minors for any period during which a parent or guardian and a health 
care provider or health care organization have committed fraud or 
collusion in the failure to bring an action on behalf of the injured 


    (a) Unlimited Amount of Damages for Actual Economic Losses in 
Health Care Lawsuits.--In any health care lawsuit, nothing in this Act 
shall limit a claimant's recovery of the full amount of the available 
economic damages, notwithstanding the limitation in subsection (b).
    (b) Additional Noneconomic Damages.--In any health care lawsuit, 
the amount of noneconomic damages, if available, may be as much as 
$250,000, regardless of the number of parties against whom the action 
is brought or the number of separate claims or actions brought with 
respect to the same injury.
    (c) No Discount of Award for Noneconomic Damages.--For purposes of 
applying the limitation in subsection (b), future noneconomic damages 
shall not be discounted to present value. The jury shall not be 
informed about the maximum award for noneconomic damages. An award for 
noneconomic damages in excess of $250,000 shall be reduced either 
before the entry of judgment, or by amendment of the judgment after 
entry of judgment, and such reduction shall be made before accounting 
for any other reduction in damages required by law. If separate awards 
are rendered for past and future noneconomic damages and the combined 
awards exceed $250,000, the future noneconomic damages shall be reduced 
    (d) Fair Share Rule.--In any health care lawsuit, each party shall 
be liable for that party's several share of any damages only and not 
for the share of any other person. Each party shall be liable only for 
the amount of damages allocated to such party in direct proportion to 
such party's percentage of responsibility. Whenever a judgment of 
liability is rendered as to any party, a separate judgment shall be 
rendered against each such party for the amount allocated to such 
party. For purposes of this section, the trier of fact shall determine 
the proportion of responsibility of each party for the claimant's harm.


    (a) Court Supervision of Share of Damages Actually Paid to 
Claimants.--In any health care lawsuit, the court shall supervise the 
arrangements for payment of damages to protect against conflicts of 
interest that may have the effect of reducing the amount of damages 
awarded that are actually paid to claimants. In particular, in any 
health care lawsuit in which the attorney for a party claims a 
financial stake in the outcome by virtue of a contingent fee, the court 
shall have the power to restrict the payment of a claimant's damage 
recovery to such attorney, and to redirect such damages to the claimant 
based upon the interests of justice and principles of equity. In no 
event shall the total of all contingent fees for representing all 
claimants in a health care lawsuit exceed the following limits:
            (1) 40 percent of the first $50,000 recovered by the 
            (2) 33\1/3\ percent of the next $50,000 recovered by the 
            (3) 25 percent of the next $500,000 recovered by the 
            (4) 15 percent of any amount by which the recovery by the 
        claimant(s) is in excess of $600,000.
    (b) Applicability.--The limitations in this section shall apply 
whether the recovery is by judgment, settlement, mediation, 
arbitration, or any other form of alternative dispute resolution. In a 
health care lawsuit involving a minor or incompetent person, a court 
retains the authority to authorize or approve a fee that is less than 
the maximum permitted under this section. The requirement for court 
supervision in the first two sentences of subsection (a) applies only 
in civil actions.


    In any health care lawsuit involving injury or wrongful death, any 
party may introduce evidence of collateral source benefits. If a party 
elects to introduce such evidence, any opposing party may introduce 
evidence of any amount paid or contributed or reasonably likely to be 
paid or contributed in the future by or on behalf of the opposing party 
to secure the right to such collateral source benefits. No provider of 
collateral source benefits shall recover any amount against the 
claimant or receive any lien or credit against the claimant's recovery 
or be equitably or legally subrogated to the right of the claimant in a 
health care lawsuit involving injury or wrongful death. This section 
shall apply to any health care lawsuit that is settled as well as a 
health care lawsuit that is resolved by a fact finder. This section 
shall not apply to section 1862(b) (42 U.S.C. 1395y(b)) or section 
1902(a)(25) (42 U.S.C. 1396a(a)(25)) of the Social Security Act.


    (a) In General.--Punitive damages may, if otherwise permitted by 
applicable State or Federal law, be awarded against any person in a 
health care lawsuit only if it is proven by clear and convincing 
evidence that such person acted with malicious intent to injure the 
claimant, or that such person deliberately failed to avoid unnecessary 
injury that such person knew the claimant was substantially certain to 
suffer. In any health care lawsuit where no judgment for compensatory 
damages is rendered against such person, no punitive damages may be 
awarded with respect to the claim in such lawsuit. No demand for 
punitive damages shall be included in a health care lawsuit as 
initially filed. A court may allow a claimant to file an amended 
pleading for punitive damages only upon a motion by the claimant and 
after a finding by the court, upon review of supporting and opposing 
affidavits or after a hearing, after weighing the evidence, that the 
claimant has established by a substantial probability that the claimant 
will prevail on the claim for punitive damages. At the request of any 
party in a health care lawsuit, the trier of fact shall consider in a 
separate proceeding--
            (1) whether punitive damages are to be awarded and the 
        amount of such award; and
            (2) the amount of punitive damages following a 
        determination of punitive liability.
If a separate proceeding is requested, evidence relevant only to the 
claim for punitive damages, as determined by applicable State law, 
shall be inadmissible in any proceeding to determine whether 
compensatory damages are to be awarded.
    (b) Determining Amount of Punitive Damages.--
            (1) Factors considered.--In determining the amount of 
        punitive damages, if awarded, in a health care lawsuit, the 
        trier of fact shall consider only the following--
                    (A) the severity of the harm caused by the conduct 
                of such party;
                    (B) the duration of the conduct or any concealment 
                of it by such party;
                    (C) the profitability of the conduct to such party;
                    (D) the number of products sold or medical 
                procedures rendered for compensation, as the case may 
                be, by such party, of the kind causing the harm 
                complained of by the claimant;
                    (E) any criminal penalties imposed on such party, 
                as a result of the conduct complained of by the 
                claimant; and
                    (F) the amount of any civil fines assessed against 
                such party as a result of the conduct complained of by 
                the claimant.
            (2) Maximum award.--The amount of punitive damages, if 
        awarded, in a health care lawsuit may be as much as $250,000 or 
        as much as two times the amount of economic damages awarded, 
        whichever is greater. The jury shall not be informed of this 
    (c) No Punitive Damages for Products That Comply With FDA 
            (1) In general.--
                    (A) No punitive damages may be awarded against the 
                manufacturer or distributor of a medical product, or a 
                supplier of any component or raw material of such 
                medical product, based on a claim that such product 
                caused the claimant's harm where--
                            (i)(I) such medical product was subject to 
                        premarket approval, clearance, or licensure by 
                        the Food and Drug Administration with respect 
                        to the safety of the formulation or performance 
                        of the aspect of such medical product which 
                        caused the claimant's harm or the adequacy of 
                        the packaging or labeling of such medical 
                        product; and
                            (II) such medical product was so approved, 
                        cleared, or licensed; or
                            (ii) such medical product is generally 
                        recognized among qualified experts as safe and 
                        effective pursuant to conditions established by 
                        the Food and Drug Administration and applicable 
                        Food and Drug Administration regulations, 
                        including without limitation those related to 
                        packaging and labeling, unless the Food and 
                        Drug Administration has determined that such 
                        medical product was not manufactured or 
                        distributed in substantial compliance with 
                        applicable Food and Drug Administration 
                        statutes and regulations.
                    (B) Rule of construction.--Subparagraph (A) may not 
                be construed as establishing the obligation of the Food 
                and Drug Administration to demonstrate affirmatively 
                that a manufacturer, distributor, or supplier referred 
                to in such subparagraph meets any of the conditions 
                described in such subparagraph.
            (2) Liability of health care providers.--A health care 
        provider who prescribes, or who dispenses pursuant to a 
        prescription, a medical product approved, licensed, or cleared 

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