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The undersigned consumer and public interest groups strongly oppose H.R. 5, the “Protecting Access to Healthcare Act,” which would limit the legal rights of injured patients and families of those killed by negligent health care.
The purpose of this letter is not to comment on H.R. 5’s new amendment, “Title II—Repeal Of Independent Payment Advisory Board.” We will limit our comments to Title I of H.R. 5, an outrageous ly broad proposal that covers not only cases involving medical malpractice, but also cases involving unsafe drugs and nursing home abuse and neglect.
Even if these provisions applied only to doctors and hospitals, the Congressional Budget Office believes they would save no more than 0.5 percent in health care costs, which is likely a significant exaggeration. At the same time, admits CBO, the U.S. death rate could increase by .2 percent, killing another 4,000 people each year. Add to this the pharmaceutical industry liability limitations in H.R. 5, removing a significant incentive for drug companies to act safely, and untold numbers of additional death and injuries should H.R. 5 pass are inevitable, and unacceptable.
Medical malpractice is already at epidemic levels in this country. It has been over a decade since publication of the Institute of Medicine’s seminal study “To Err is Human” finding up to 98,000 deaths in hospitals due to medical errors. Experts agree that there has been no meaningful reduction in medical errors in the United States since then.