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Thursday, April 25th 2002

The Honorable Jim Greenwood
United States House of Representatives
2436 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-4276

Dear Representative Greenwood:

On behalf of the American Hospital Association (AHA) and its more than 5,000 member hospitals, health care systems, networks and other providers of care, I am writing to express our strong support for your bill, The Helping to Ensure Affordable, Low-cost, Timely Health Care Act of 2002. The AHA applauds your leadership and bipartisan approach in addressing an issue that is threatening health care across the nation.

America's hospitals are experiencing dramatic increases in the cost of health care liability insurance. Coupled with a growing workforce shortage, reductions in payment, and redoubled disaster preparedness efforts, this additional burden threatens our ability to continue to appropriately staff emergency and other departments and recruit new physicians to high-risk specialties.

While many states are coping with sharp increases in the cost of health care liability insurance, California stands as a model of how to address the issue. The AHA believes that the California-style reforms enacted under the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) of 1975 and reflected in your bill should be adopted on the federal level. Your bill includes the following MICRA type reforms:

  • A $250,000 cap on non-economic damages (pain and suffering), and full payment of all other costs and damages
  • Collateral source payment offsets, which prevent double payments for the same expense by two or more insurance companies or other payers
  • Periodic payment of damages over $50,000
  • A three-year statute of repose, and one-year statute of limitations
  • Joint and several liability
  • Limitation of plaintiff attorney contingency fees

For more than 25 years, MICRA has demonstrated that patients' rights can be protected at the same time that medical liability costs are reduced. You have our commitment to work toward passage of The Helping to Ensure Affordable, Low-cost, Timely Health Care Act of 2002, so that these reforms can work throughout the nation. We stand ready to work with you to enact this important legislation.


Rick Pollack
Executive Vice President


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