| 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] ...
108th CONGRESS 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, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the ``Help Efficient, Accessible, Low- cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2003''. SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE. (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. SEC. 3. ENCOURAGING SPEEDY RESOLUTION OF CLAIMS. 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 following-- (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 minor. SEC. 4. COMPENSATING PATIENT INJURY. (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 first. (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. SEC. 5. MAXIMIZING PATIENT RECOVERY. (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 claimant(s). (2) 33\1/3\ percent of the next $50,000 recovered by the claimant(s). (3) 25 percent of the next $500,000 recovered by the claimant(s). (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. SEC. 6. ADDITIONAL HEALTH BENEFITS. 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. SEC. 7. PUNITIVE DAMAGES. (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 limitation. (c) No Punitive Damages for Products That Comply With FDA Standards.-- (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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