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Comprehensive Medical Liability Reform Legislation Introduced

On July 9, H.R. 3656, the Accessible Care by Curbing Excessive lawSuitS (ACCESS) Act, was introduced by Reps. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), Roger Marshall, MD (R-Kan.) and Larry Bucshon, MD (R-Ind.). Endorsed by the CNS and the AANS, this comprehensive reform legislation is modeled in part on the laws in California and Texas, which include reasonable limits on noneconomic damages. The bill also includes the following provisions:

  • Defines who qualifies as an expert witness;
  • Requires an affidavit of merit before bringing a lawsuit;
  • Allows a physician to apologize to a patient for an unintended outcome without having the apology count against them in the court of law; and
  • Requires a 90-day cooling-off period before lawsuits can be filed to facilitate voluntary settlements.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimate that the provisions included in the bill would reduce federal spending by about $14 billion over five years and almost $50 billion over 10 years.

For more information on these or other health policy issues, contact Katie O. Orrico, director of the AANS/CNS Washington Office at korrico@neurosurgery.org.