Taking away your patients' rights, one bill at a time

Congress Watch
May 1, 2006


It’s spring time in Washington, which means you can count on two things: cherry blossoms and new attempts by Congress to take away patients’ rights. This year, the Senate Republican leadership has dubbed these efforts “Health Week,” scheduled for early May. But you can be sure there’ll be nothing “healthy” about it.

Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) will lead the latest attack on patients with a bill that would shut medical malpractice victims out of court and drastically limit compensation for those who manage to get in. Under the guise of reducing doctors' malpractice insurance premiums, it would place a $250,000 cap on the compensation patients could receive to restore some of their quality of life even after the most grievous injuries, such as when they have been left paralyzed or brain damaged by a negligent doctor.

Meanwhile, the bill has no provision that would actually rein in out-of-control medical malpractice insurance rates, even for an industry that saw record profits in 2005, despite the devastation caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.), not to be outdone, will introduce comparable legislation with identical caps, but that adds discrimination to the mix by cutting off only the rights of women and babies hurt by negligent obstetrical services.

As these dangerous bills and others come up for consideration in the Senate, we will need your help to tell Congress to stop protecting negligent doctors and greedy insurance companies instead of patients.  Stay tuned to Congress Watch for the latest civil justice news and developments from Washington in the coming weeks.

Copyright © 2006 Public Citizen



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