Federal Legislative Activities
The AMA strongly supports comprehensive medical liability reform (MLR), including reasonable limits on non-economic damages similar to successful reforms in California and Texas.
The "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" (ACA) included multiple provisions concerning the establishment and implementation of national care and practice standards and guidelines for health care providers, with potential for new causes of legal action against physicians. The AMA believes physicians should not have to worry about potential new causes of action or liability exposure in their attempts to develop new ways to improve the quality and efficiencies of care.
On April 10, 2013, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), who has long been a proponent for MLR, introduced H.R. 1473, the "Standard of Care Protection Act of 2013." The Senate companion bill S. 1769 was introduced by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) on November 21, 2013. This legislation would clarify that the care standards and guidelines specified in the ACA, Medicare and Medicaid statutes cannot be used to create new causes of legal action against physicians providing care to patients. In addition, it would preserve state medical liability laws. AMA supports H.R. 1473 and S. 1769.
Additionally, the AMA supports H.R. 1733, the “Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act of 2013,” which was introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) on April 25, 2013. Its Senate companion bill S. 2196, the “Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act of 2014” was introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) on April 1, 2014. This legislation would help ensure that needed medical volunteers are not turned away due to confusion and uncertainty about the application of Good Samaritan laws, as was the case in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Liability insurance carriers do not typically provide coverage outside the state where a physician is licensed to practice. This means that physicians or other sports medicine professionals traveling with sports teams may not be covered when they provide care in another state. To remedy this problem, Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA) introduced H.R. 3722 on December 12, 2013, a bill to provide protection for sports medicine professionals, including physicians, who provide certain medical services in a secondary state. Its Senate companion bill was introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Thune (R-SD) on April 8, 2014. AMA supports this legislation.
AMA Medical Liability Reform - NOW!
Compendium of research and advocacy information on medical liability reform
In December 2010, HHS’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) announced new grant opportunities for medical liability and patient safety initiatives. Read more about AHRQ Medical Liability/Patient Safety Grants.
On September 17, 2009, President Obama directed Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to launch a new medical liability grant project. The project provides financial incentives to states and health care systems to test models that meet four goals: 1) put patient safety first and work to reduce preventable injuries; 2) foster better communication between doctors and patients; 3) ensure that patients are compensated in a fair and timely manner for medical injuries, while also reducing the incidence of frivolous lawsuits; and 4) reduce liability premiums.
On June 11, 2010, HHS’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), charged with implementing the grant program, announced the grant recipients. Read more about the recipients and liability reform models.