Members of the House Rules Committee could take up two narrow health insurance bills next week.
One, H.R. 1215, the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017 bill, would cap liability lawsuit recoveries related to medical care, if the care was provided or subsidized with help from the federal government.
The other bill, H.R. 1304, the Self-Insurance Protection Act bill, would shield small employer self-insured plans from some state oversight efforts.
The Rules Committee — a panel that decides what a bill will look like when it comes up for a vote on the House floor, and what the rules for final consideration of the bill will be — has asked for lawmakers to file any proposed amendments for both bills by 10 a.m. Monday.
Links to information about the bill are available here, on the Rules Committee website.
House Republicans succeeded Wednesday at passing H.R. 372, a health insurance antitrust restriction bill, by a 416-7 vote, and H.R. 1101, an association health plan bill, by a 236 to 175 vote.
But Republican leaders have been too busy trying to get H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act bill, to the House floor to celebrate the antitrust and association health plan bill victories.
If H.R. 1628 reaches the Senate, the Senate is likely to consider that bill under special budget reconciliation rules that could let it pass with just 51 votes.
The antitrust, association health plan, health care liability and stop-loss bills would probably be considered under ordinary Senate rules. Under the ordinary Senate rules, a bill must have the support of at least 60 senators to come up for a vote.
H.R. 1215, the liability lawsuit bill, would put a $250,000 cap on recoveries for noneconomic damages.
H.R. 1215 would also limit the size of the “contingency fees,” or award-based fees, that the patient’s lawyers could collect. Under the formula in the bill, the lawyers could collect up to 40 percent of the first $50,000 in recoveries, but only 15 percent of any amount recovered over $600,000.
The definition of “health care lawsuit” used in the bill would exclude suits based on criminal liability, government efforts to collect fines or penalties, or antitrust laws.
Members of the House Judiciary Committee approved the bill by an 18-17 vote Wednesday, and the House Energy & Commerce Committee discharged the bill Wednesday.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, is the lead sponsor.
King and other supporters say the bill is necessary to provide checks and balances on lawsuits that increase the cost of health care and limit the availability of doctors.
Opponents say the bill would undermine the ability of the victims of medical malpractice to be fully compensated for their injuries, and that bill also would trample on states’ rights.