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

H.R. 5 (pcs) To amend title II of the Social Security Act to eliminate the earnings test for individuals who have attained retirement age. [Placed on Calendar Senate] ...


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108th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                 H. R. 5

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.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                            February 5, 2003

Mr. Greenwood (for himself, Mr. Murtha, Mr. Cox, Mr. Sensenbrenner, Mr. 
Tauzin, Mr. Thomas, Mr. Goode, Mr. Ferguson, Mr. Gerlach, Mrs. Capito, 
    Mr. Feeney, Mr. Kirk, Mrs. Biggert, Mr. Platts, Mr. Shays, Mr. 
  Frelinghuysen, Mr. Murphy, Mr. Peterson of Minnesota, Mr. Lucas of 
  Kentucky, Mr. Stenholm, Mr. Taylor of Mississippi, Mr. Hobson, Ms. 
Granger, Mrs. Johnson of Connecticut, Ms. Dunn, Mr. Rogers of Michigan, 
Ms. Ginny Brown-Waite of Florida, Mr. Hayes, Mr. Leach, Mr. Otter, Mr. 
   Graves, Mr. LaTourette, Mr. Fletcher, Mr. Weldon of Florida, Mr. 
Tiberi, Mr. Hayworth, Mr. Crane, Mr. Portman, Mr. Sullivan, Mr. Souder, 
 Mr. Cannon, Mr. Shaw, Mr. McHugh, Mr. McKeon, Mr. Lewis of Kentucky, 
Mrs. Northup, Mr. Sessions, Mr. Hulshof, Mr. Putnam, Mr. Gilchrest, Mr. 
 Knollenberg, Mr. Houghton, Mr. Regula, Mr. Tom Davis of Virginia, Mr. 
 Forbes, Mr. Peterson of Pennsylvania, Mr. LoBiondo, Mr. Boehlert, Mr. 
 Nussle, Mr. Shuster, Mr. Tiahrt, Mr. Stearns, Mr. Gillmor, Ms. Hart, 
   Mr. Walsh, Mr. Crenshaw, Mr. Barton of Texas, Mr. Keller, and Mr. 
   Collins) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the 
Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on Energy 
    and Commerce, for a period to be subsequently determined by the 
  Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall 
           within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
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;
            (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, the full amount of a 
claimant's economic loss may be fully recovered without limitation.
    (b) Additional Noneconomic Damages.--In any health care lawsuit, 
the amount of noneconomic damages recovered 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 occurrence.
    (c) No Discount of Award for Noneconomic Damages.--In any health 
care lawsuit, an award for 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. 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.

SEC. 6. ADDITIONAL HEALTH BENEFITS.

    In any health care lawsuit, 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. 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 Civil Monetary Penalties for Products in Compliance With FDA 
Standards.--
            (1) Punitive damages.--
                    (A) In general.--In addition to the requirements of 
                subsection (a), punitive damages may not be awarded 
                against the manufacturer or distributor of a medical 
                product, or a supplier of any component or raw material 
                of such medical product, on the basis that the harm to 
                the claimant was caused by the lack of safety or 
                effectiveness of the particular medical product 
                involved, unless the claimant demonstrates by clear and 
                convincing evidence that--
                            (i) the manufacturer or distributor of the 
                        particular medical product, or supplier of any 
                        component or raw material of such medical 
                        product, failed to comply with a specific 
                        requirement of the Federal Food, Drug, and 
                        Cosmetic Act or the regulations promulgated 
                        thereunder; and
                            (ii) the harm attributed to the particular 
                        medical product resulted from such failure to 
                        comply with such specific statutory requirement 
                        or regulation.
                    (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 a medical product approved or cleared 
        by the Food and Drug Administration shall not be named as a 
        party to a product liability lawsuit involving such product and 

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