A total of 13 military and veterans’ groups have written a letter to major congressional leaders asking them to oppose a bill that would cap the damages veterans and their families could seek under “pain and suffering” from medical treatments gone awry.
In a letter sent Monday, groups like Vietnam Veterans of America, Marine Corps League and Jewish War Veterans of the USA argued that the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017 completely hampers the ability of veterans to hold health care providers accountable for “pain, suffering and death” that occurs from poor care and “defective drugs.”
And the problem of unnecessary pain, suffering and death stemming from understaffing and negligence is an ever-present worry given scandals plaguing VA hospitals across the country, the groups noted.
Currently, veterans hospitals are subject to the Federal Tort Claims Act, which means that state law on torts applies in whatever given state the incident occurred. The idea of this new legislation, introduced in February of this year and currently on schedule to be considered in the House next week, is to pre-empt state laws and cap non-economic damages at $250,000 for veterans and military families.
The letter notes that if this bill is signed into law, people like Air Force Lt. Col. Clarence Lee wouldn’t have been able to seek justice for his two-year old son, who nearly died because of medical malpractice. Lee donated one of his kidneys to ensure that his son survived, but his son will still need transplants well into adulthood.
“This broad overreaching federal law should not dictate recovery for every single veteran and military family in all 50 states,” the groups argued. “Those decisions should be left to the states and the federal government should never be in the position of providing less recovery and aid to veterans and military families. But this is exactly what H.R. 1215 will do.”
Although tort reform has been on the agenda of Republicans in Congress for 2017, it is difficult to imagine the bill would pass, as the Democrats could filibuster in the Senate.
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