Health Care Tango
There are some votes that are worth taking even if they have no chance of affecting legislation. If nothing else, they allow the public to see the points of view of their representatives. That's was the case a few months ago when the House passed HR 5, the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2011.
This legislation was largely a waste of time as it has no chance of coming up in the Senate. However, if it had been enacted, it would have attempted to reform the tort system in the US by setting a statute of limitations of three years after the date of manifestation of an injury or one year after the claimant discovers the injury, made each party liable only for the amount of damages directly proportional to such party's percentage of responsibility, allowed the court to restrict the payment of attorney contingency fees, and authorized punitive damages only where there is clear and convincing evidence that a person acted with malicious intent to injure the claimant.
While tort reform is sorely needed, this legislation was an excellent example of how not to go about that reform. In addition to the changes above, the legislation would have limited punitive damages to $500,000, and limited noneconomic damages to $250,000. It also would have denied punitive damages in the case of products approved, cleared, or licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or otherwise considered in compliance with FDA standards.
This means that unless you can prove the doctor or drug company intended to harm you, you can't claim punitive damages. On top of that, if a corrupt drug company managed to get a drug past the FDA, this legislation would have protected them from punitive damages
Health care is broken in this country. Unfortunately, this is the wrong prescription for fixing it. This vote is being tracked under each representative's health care profile.