March 15, 2012
NCSL Calls for State Sovereignty, Urges House Not to Pass Medical Malpractice Legislation
Washington, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives is attempting to create a one-size-fits-all solution for a problem that states are already addressing. Medical malpractice law has always fallen under the authority of the states, giving them the ability to address the issue on a state-by-state basis. With this in mind, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) strongly urges Congress not to pass federal medical malpractice legislation preempting the states.
“At its most basic level, this comes down to the issue of federalism and whether the federal government thinks it can do something better than the states. Let me state it plainly, the federal government cannot do this better than the states,” said South Dakota state Senator Joni Cutler, co-chair of the NCSL Committee on Law and Criminal Justice.
Specifically, NCSL is expressing its opposition to attaching federal medical malpractice legislation, H.R. 5, the “Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-Cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2011,” to the bipartisan H.R. 452, the “Medicare Decisions Accountability Act of 2011.” NCSL opposes the passage of H.R. 5 as either a stand-alone bill, or as attached to any other piece of federal legislation.
Since the country’s inception, states have addressed the myriad of substantive and regulatory issues regarding licensure, insurance, court procedures, victim compensation, civil liability, medical records and other related matters. Without the burden of federal legislation, states are able to react to their own unique circumstances, making changes and adjustments where needed. During the 2012 legislature sessions, 35 states have introduced over 350 pieces of legislation addressing medical malpractice concerns.
“Regardless of how you feel on this topic, it’s an issue states are better equipped to handle, and on that, there is bipartisan agreement,” said Mississippi Representative Tommy Reynolds, co-chair of NCSL’s Committee on Law and Criminal Justice.
NCSL has longstanding Medical Malpractice policy, which was most recently renewed in 2009.
NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.