By Alex Stein
President Trump’s budget for Fiscal Year 2018 proposes a thoroughgoing reform of our medical malpractice system [Executive Office of the President of the United States, Major Savings and Reforms, Budget of the U.S. Government, Fiscal Year 2018, at 114 (2017) (hereinafter, the “Budget”)]. The reform’s stated goals are “[to] reduce defensive medicine … limit liability, reduce provider burden, promote evidence-based practices, and strengthen the physician-patient relationship.”
To achieve these goals, the reform will introduce the following measures:
- a cap on non-economic damage awards of $250,000 (adjustable to inflation);
- a three-year statute of limitations;
- allowing courts to modify attorney’s fee arrangements;
- abolition of the “collateral source” rule (to allow judges and jurors to hear evidence of the plaintiff’s income from other sources such as workers’ compensation and insurance);
- creating a safe harbor for clinicians who follow evidence-based clinical-practice guidelines.