March 15, 2012

H.R. 5 Vote Next Week May Limit Legal Rights of Families Affected By Birth Injuries

by Levin & Perconti

Over the past year the Illinois birth injury lawyers at our firm have been following the development of a dangerous piece of legislation known as House Resolution 5 (H.R. 5). The bill is a large one that has various components. Part of the legislation seeks to overturn portions of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Obamacare). In addition, sections of the measure would mandate tort reform proposals in every state. Those proposed “reform” measures would severely curtail the legal rights of those whose children are harmed at birth because of medical negligence. For that reason, all those who care about fairness and open access to the justice system should take a moment to voice their opposition to this bill.

The American Association for Justice explains that, for a variety of reasons, H.R. 5 has been stalled for over a year. However, that stagnation appears to be changing, and the bill has been fast-tracked. Those familiar with the situation in Washington explain that a vote on the measure in the full House of Representative is expected as early as next week.

Alleged cost savings is the pretense for passage of the bill. However, the most generous estimate on the amount of money that can actually be saved by passing this bill from the Congressional Budget Office suggest that the savings would top off at one half of one percent of national healthcare costs annually. Some lawmakers are actually suggesting that taking away fundamental rights from all ordinary citizens is justified based on that fraction of cost savings.

But it is not even that simple. Rarely factored into the equation is the effect that the changed law will have on patient care and the costs associated with worsened care. The Institute of Medicine has found that preventable medical errors lead to roughly $300 billion in increased healthcare spending annually. That spending does not even account for the hundreds of thousands more who are hurt by medical negligence but survive. Studies have shown that the civil justice system acts as an important accountability tool which influences the total errors committed. If that accountability tool is hampered, the amount of mistakes is likely to increase. This will both make care at all medical facilities worse but also lead to more spending to account for the extra care needed.

The Chicago birth injury attorneys at Levin & Perconti stand firmly against misguided, dangerous measures like those included in H.R. 5. We urge all community members to take a moment to contact their member of Congress to voice their opposition to the bill. Please follow this link to reach out to your representative.

Some may be hesitant to take this step, assuming that their voice won’t make a difference. However, time and again it has been shown that, partisan politics aside, representatives take notice when they receive a deluge of correspondence on a particular piece of legislation. Every voice that is included in the process sends another message to those in a position to protect patient rights. Please don’t delay in doing your part to beat back this dangerous bill.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Impartial Organizers Lining Up Against House Resolution 5

H.R. 5 Medical Malpractice Proposals Shot Down By Committee Testimony