What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Consumer Protection : H.R. 5. Health Care/Procedural Vote on Motion to Recommit with Instructions (Amend or Kill) Bill to Cap Damage Awards for Victims and Reduce Liability in Medical Malpractice Cases. (2005 house Roll Call 448)
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H.R. 5. Health Care/Procedural Vote on Motion to Recommit with Instructions (Amend or Kill) Bill to Cap Damage Awards for Victims and Reduce Liability in Medical Malpractice Cases.
house Roll Call 448     Jul 28, 2005
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

In this vote, the House defeated a motion to recommit with instructions H.R. 5, a bill to cap damage awards for victims and reduce liability in medical malpractice cases. (A motion to recommit with instructions means to send a bill back to committee with instructions to take a specific action. It is often a last attempt by the opponents of a bill amend substantively or to kill the pending legislation.) John Conyers (D-MI) offered the motion on behalf of Democrats, including Progressives. Republicans had argued that large awards in medical malpractice cases had led malpractice insurance companies to raise their premiums for doctors, hospitals and other health care providers so high that many of these providers were being forced to give up their practices. Republicans offered H.R. 5 as a solution to this problem. But Progressives condemned the bill, arguing that "[r]ather than helping doctors and victims, this measure pads the pockets of insurance companies, health maintenance organizations, and manufacturers and distributors of defective medical products and pharmaceuticals, and it does so at the expense of innocent victims, particularly women, children, the elderly and the poor." (Conyers.) Conyers further argued that his motion would have gotten at the real problem-frivolous lawsuits-by "requir[ing] that both an attorney and health care specialist submit an affidavit that the claim is warranted before a malpractice action can be brought, and imposes strict sanctions for attorneys who make any frivolous pleadings." (Conyers.) Republicans criticized the motion to recommit, alleging that it would not have adequately protected doctors from frivolous suits. Instead, they hailed the bill, arguing that it "safeguards patients' rights to care through commonsense reforms. First, it promotes the speedy resolution of claims and fairly allocates damages. Second, the HEALTH Act accurately compensates patient injuries and maximizes patient recovery. Finally, this legislation places reasonable limits on punitive damages and ensures the payment of medical expenses and respects States' rights." Joe Wilson (R-SC).) In a defeat for Progressives, the House rejected this motion by a nearly party-line vote of 193 to 234. Thus, the House proceeded to a vote on the bill to limit liability and cap damage awards in medical malpractice.

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