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Poll: Arizonans Reject Medical Malpractice Bill

A new poll shows 67 percent of Arizonans oppose legislation to limit judgments in medical malpractice cases. (Pixabay)
A new poll shows 67 percent of Arizonans oppose legislation to limit judgments in medical malpractice cases. (Pixabay)
March 29, 2017

PHOENIX – More than two-thirds of Arizonans reject a bill proposed in Congress to make it much harder to sue for medical malpractice, according to a new poll. The survey by Public Policy Polling says voters overwhelmingly disapprove of HR 1215, which would preempt state malpractice laws.

Linda Lipsen, the CEO of the American Association for Justice, the group that commissioned the poll, says the bill puts the interests of hospitals, nursing homes, drug makers and medical-device manufacturers over those of patients, in cases involving claims of pain and suffering - or non-economic damage.

"Its major feature is a cap on damages of $250,000 for life-shattering injury - like loss of fertility, being burned over half of your body, dismemberment, instruments being left in the body - that would be a non-economic damage," she explained.

The bill also would limit the patient's attorney's fees, which Lipsen says could make it harder for people to find someone to take their case. And it imposes a restrictive federal statute of limitations.

Supporters of HR 1215 say it discourages frivolous lawsuits and would bring down the cost of medical malpractice insurance.

Jim Williams with Public Policy Polling says the survey, which covered Arizona and six other traditionally red states, shows that the opposition is remarkably diverse.

"And that coalition of opposition includes majorities and pluralities of Democrats, Republicans Independents; both men and women, and voters in all three of the age groups that we polled," he said.

HR 1215 was supposed to be voted on last week in the U.S. House, but was pulled on the same day as the Republican proposal to repeal Obamacare. It is expected to be rescheduled for a vote in the coming weeks.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - AZ