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Public Statements

Protecting Access to Healthcare Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DEUTCH. Mr. Chairman, it's no surprise that I am disappointed with the content of this bill before us today. I join with my colleagues who have expressed their disappointment, but I'm also disappointed with the process behind it.

Yesterday, for a totally bogus reason, the Rules Committee declared an amendment I offered out of order. They claimed it would add to the cost of the bill despite having no numbers. The amendment did not create some new regulation. It did not create new judicial proceedings. It did not set aside money for a new program.

Let me tell you what it did do, Mr. Chairman. It would have made a terrible bill slightly better. It's simple.

My amendment ensured that doctors who intentionally--not accidentally, but intentionally--harm their patients are not exempt from medical malpractice liability. If this Congress wishes to tell a child made blind by the negligence of his doctor that those in this Chamber know better than a jury, if my colleagues wish to pretend that the Seventh Amendment of the United States Constitution, guaranteeing a trial by jury, was somehow omitted from the Bill of Rights, I disagree, but so be it. The very least we can do is ensure that if a doctor intentionally abuses his patients that he will not evade justice.

Surely, the sponsors of this bill did not intend to extend liability caps to a pediatrician who sexually abused a child or a dentist who raped his patients under sedation. I'm disgusted to say that those are both real examples of the kind of abhorrent behavior H.R. 5 may mistakenly immunize without clarification.

Is it too much to ask that we simply think this through? Can someone explain to me how this amendment costs a penny? Better yet, will someone explain to the 103 children who were molested by a Delaware pediatrician that Washington wants to make it easier for sexual predators to evade justice?

My friends, differentiating between medical errors and intentional harm is not some wild and crazy new idea being pedaled by the left. Many States--blue States, red States, and in between--limit malpractice awards but make distinctions for intentional torts.

The majority could have considered my small change and protected the commonsense State laws that are already on the books. Instead, under the 112th Congress, relentless partisanship has poisoned this well and impeded our ability to write good laws. Perhaps, Mr. Chairman, perhaps the reason Americans are so disenchanted with Congress is because they know that it doesn't have to be this way.

I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this legislation.


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