Back in January, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee held its very first hearing on what they apparently considered to be the single most important issue facing the nation- taking away the legal rights of injured patients! This was even before there was a bill – although soon thereafter, malpracticing doctor Rep. Phil Gingrey, (R-GA), introduced one - H.R. 5
But when the bill went to mark-up, a funny thing happened. Some Republicans launched a full-force, in-you-face assault against H.R. 5 because, well, it would have Congress stepping on one of the most traditional areas of state law – tort law. I guess everyone has their hypocrisy breaking point.
For example, “Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) accused Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) of proposing legislation that would violate the Constitution.” The bill was also slammed by other states-rights constitutional experts. After some fighting, the bill was eventually was marked up and reported out of committee (it was also handled by the House Energy and Commerce Committee) but understandably, it’s stalled in the House. The issue which began as the new #1, now no one really wants to touch.
So we were more than a bit surprised to see the issue pop up again in the “Gang of Six” budget proposal, although the specifics couldn’t be more vague: a recommendation to save "an unspecified amount through medical malpractice reform." I can understand the vagueness. The constitutional concerns over federal medical malpractice legislation - expressed by some of those very “Gang of Six” members - are still very real. They are all laid out here by Seventh Amendment Advocate’s Andrew Cochran. Do check it out!