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WASHINGTON—The U.S. House of Representatives has approved medical liability reform legislation that would, among other things, cap noneconomic and punitive damage awards in medical malpractice cases.
The House passed the Protecting Access to Healthcare Act—H.R. 5—Thursday on a 223-181, largely party-line vote. Four members voted present.
The measure would cap noneconomic and punitive damage awards in medical malpractice cases at $250,000. As amended on the floor Thursday, it also would repeal the limited antitrust exemption provided by the McCarran-Ferguson Act for health insurers.
Melissa Shelk, vp of federal affairs for the Washington-based American Insurance Assn., noted that the antitrust repeal language would specifically exempt property/casualty insurers.
“Any attempts to broadly repeal McCarran-Ferguson are misguided and could have unintended consequences that, ironically, could stifle market competition while promoting regulatory uncertainty and increased litigation,” Ms. Shelk said in a statement. “While we would prefer to see McCarran left intact, the amendment's author recognized that property/casualty insurance products, along with other nonhealth insurance lines, should be exempted from the amendment's scope.”
The House bill originally was introduced last year. The Senate, however, has not considered similar legislation introduced in that chamber early last year.