In the midst of debates over national health care, discussion about tort reform in the context of medical malpractice claims have come up time and time again. Currently, those tort reform efforts have taken form in proposed legislation known as the HEALTH Act, or H.R. 5. This is a bill that has been passed by the House twice already and would have a significant negative impact on patient safety and the legal rights of injured patients.
But what is ironic about this attempt at federal tort reform is that it is unconstitutional, for precisely the same reason that many of its proponents argued against the Affordable Care Act on the basis that it exceeded Congress’s power to legislate. Yet, they fail to see that the same issues of constitutionality apply to their own efforts at federal tort reform.
Even though the Affordable Care Act ultimately survived Supreme Court review, the decision did affirm that the national Congress is not the place for tort reform to be taking place. Rather, tort reform—if it is to happen at all—must occur at the State level. Medical malpractice litigation has always been the domain of state legislatures and courts to define and limit. It is considered an issue of states’ rights in which the federal government should not intervene. In addition, the Supreme Court’s healthcare decision found that federal efforts to deny patients’ legal rights by forcing states to change their laws exceed Congress’s authority under the Constitution.
The debate about tort reform is a complex one, without easy answers. To that end, the State of Missouri has recently spoken on this issue. The Missouri Supreme Court recently upheld the state Consitution and ruled that the medical malpractice caps previously imposed are improper. For a full discussion this topic, please review this medical malpractice caps article.
Lindsay Rakers is a Missouri and Illinois medical malpractice injury attorney. She helps victims of the following: St. Louis medical malpractice, OFallon Illinois medical malpractice Edwardsville Illinois medical malpractice, Belleville Illinois medical malpractice, St. Clair County Illinois medical malpractice, Madison County Illinois medical malpractice and others who have fallen victim to doctor mistakes.