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Public Statements

Protecting Access to Healthcare Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

The House in Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union had under consideration the bill (H.R. 5) to improve patient access to health care services and provide improved medical care by reducing the excessive burden the liability system places on the health care delivery system:

Mr. DUNCAN of Tennessee. Mr. Chair, I am caught between a rock and a hard place on this bill. I spoke and voted against the health care bill that is most frequently referred to as ``ObamaCare.''

I am strongly opposed to this Independent Payment Advisory Board, which many see as being a major step towards rationing of medical care.

I strongly favor protecting access to healthcare which is the title of H.R. 5.

However, legislators have been talking about $250,000 caps probably since the late 1970s, if not earlier.

I can assure you that $250,000 in the 70s is far more than $250,000 today.

Secondly, it does not seem fair to me to tell all of my constituents--or at least more than 99 percent--that they can be sued for everything they have, but we are going to limit suits against this one small, privileged segment of our society.

I have great admiration and respect for physicians, but I also believe they should not be placed on a pedestal way above everyone else.

Third, every trial judge sits as a 13th juror and can set aside or reduce a ridiculous or unjust judgment. If the trial judge does not act, then there are courts of appeal. There are safeguards throughout the system, and most really excessive judgments have been reversed in some way by a trial court or at a higher level.

Fourth, USA Today published a box 4 or 5 years ago which showed that for the then most recent five-year period, medical malpractice judgments had gone up only 1.8 percent while medical malpractice premiums had gone up 131 percent.

A few big insurance companies have given the public a very false impression of what is really happening in the courts so that they can impose very exorbitant rate increases.

Last, some members, including me, believe that this should be handled by the states under our Constitution and that this malpractice part of the bill goes against the spirit and intent of our tenth amendment.

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