State lawmakers blast House GOP's medical malpractice reform bill

The nation's leading advocacy group for state lawmakers wrote to House leaders on Wednesday to share their "strong, bipartisan opposition" to federal medical malpractice reform because it would infringe upon states' rights.

House Republicans are seeking to pass a tort reform bill capping non-economic damages at $250,000 next week as a way to pay for repealing the health reform law's Medicare cost-cutting board. The bill to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) has broad support from healthcare groups and some Democrats, but tort reform legislation is more controversial.

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"Medical malpractice, product liability and other areas of tort reform are areas of law that are regulated by the states," says the letter from the National Conference of State Legislatures. "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 related matters."

The letter goes on to point out that during the 2012 legislative sessions, 35 states have introduced over 350 pieces of legislation addressing medical malpractice concerns.

"The adoption of a one-size-fits-all approach to medical malpractice envisioned in H.R. 5," the letter adds, "would undermine that diversity and disregard factors unique to each particular state."

The letter is signed by the conference's Law and Criminal Justice committee co-chairmen, South Dakota Sen. Joni Cutler, a Republican, and Mississippi Rep. Tommy Reynolds, a Democrat. It was sent to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).