By:  Andrea Sears

HARRISBURG, Pa. – A majority of Pennsylvania voters are opposed to a bill in Congress that would limit the rights of patients allegedly harmed by medical malpractice or pharmaceuticals.

Called the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017, the bill would impose a statute of limitations of three years from the date of injury or one year from when an injury is discovered, and cap noneconomic damages at $250,000.

Last week the American Association for Justice, an organization of trial attorneys, commissioned a poll of voters in seven red states, including Pennsylvania, about support or opposition to the measure. According to Julie Braman Kane, president of the organization, the results were clear.

“The poll revealed that voters are decisively opposed to HR 1215 and the restrictions it places on Americans’ access to justice,” she points out.

In Pennsylvania, 68 percent of voters opposed the bill, with 64 percent saying they would be less likely to vote for representatives who support it. The bill may come up for a vote next week.

Sponsors of the bill say it would improve access to health care by reducing the burden of excess liability on the health care system. But Kane contends the bill does nothing to help Americans access safe, affordable health care.

“Yet this bill has been irresponsibly fast-tracked through the United States House of Representatives without a single committee hearing or input from experts or patient advocates,” she points out.

Also in Pennsylvania, 80 percent of those polled were concerned that HR 1215 would strip them of their legal protections as patients.

Linda Lipsen, CEO of the American Association for Justice, maintains the public opposition to HR 1215 is even stronger than the opposition to repealing the Affordable Care Act.

“This is Congress basically telling the states what they think a life is worth at $250,000,” she stresses. “No one went to the polls Nov. 8 and said they want their rights eviscerated.”