Congressman Cuellar Secures Provisions in House Health Care Bill
Protects State Tort Reform Laws, Requires Performance Assessment and Government Accountability on All New Health Agencies
Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) today announced that he has secured two major provisions in the final House version of health care reform. The measures were included in the Manager’s Amendment introduced Tuesday evening, which is a 42 page addendum to H.R. 3962, the “Affordable Health Care for America Act 2009” introduced last week.Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) today announced that he has secured two major provisions in the final House version of health care reform. The measures were included in the Manager’s Amendment introduced Tuesday evening, which is a 42 page addendum to H.R. 3962, the “Affordable Health Care for America Act 2009” introduced last week.
The provisions will protect current and future state medical malpractice laws from federal infringement and will impose proven government accountability, performance and customer service standards on any new federal agency created by the bill, in addition to requiring periodic assessments to eliminate unnecessary rules and regulations at these agencies.
“As a supporter of the Texas malpractice reform, I wanted to be sure that these state medical liability laws would not be adversely impacted by this legislation,” said Congressman Cuellar. “This means no federal law can preempt, setback or alter a state’s tort reform laws. With this, they will stay in tact.”
Since July, Congressman Cuellar advocated for tort reform to be included in the final health care reform plan. While serving in the Texas State Legislature, he strongly supported medical malpractice laws for Texas health care providers.
“The physicians and medical students of the Texas Medical Association (TMA) applaud U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar for taking an important step to protect Texas’ landmark medical liability reforms,” said William H. Fleming III, MD, President of the Texas Medical Association. “Texas’ medical liability reforms have been good for Texas and good for Texas patients. It’s critical that Texas has the ability to protect these important reforms, and Congressman Cuellar’s amendment is a step in that direction.”
“Texas Medical Liability Trust (TMLT) and its nearly 15,000 physician policy holders greatly appreciate the efforts of Representative Henry Cuellar of Texas to include language in the current health care reform bill that attempts to protect physicians against potential increased liability exposure in H.R. 3962,” said Bob Fields, President and CEO of the Texas Medical Liability Trust. “Representative Cuellar continues to be a strong advocate for physicians and their patients.”
Congressman Cuellar also authored a provision in the amendment that will impose several performance and accountability requirements on all new agencies created under H.R. 3962. Among the provisions are requirements for agencies to produce a strategic plan every three years and conduct annual performance assessments. This is intended to help the public assess each new agency’s performance, productivity and accountability.
“I believe in governing with our eyes open,” said Congressman Cuellar. “If we are creating new agencies, we need to ensure from the outset that they are held accountable to the American people. If we’re asking Americans to be responsible for their health care we should ensure these agencies are held responsible for their actions.”
Also included in the bill are two additional “good government” provisions that will increase high-quality government customer service and reduce bureaucratic red tape.
Each new agency would be required to periodically review their customer service plans to develop improvement strategies and higher standards. This reflects goals included in legislation which Congressman Cuellar successfully passed in the House in July 2007.
Cuellar’s amendment also requires each agency to identify and eliminate any redundant rules and regulations.
“With government it’s a given: there will be red tape. This is why it’s so important to give these agencies the authority to root out redundant rules and regulations to help Americans get the care they need,” said Congressman Cuellar. “These are common sense solutions to common practice problems.”
A House vote on health care reform is expected to take place this weekend.
As a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, Congressman Cuellar supported allowing Americans to review the final bill for 72 hours before a vote is a made, a commitment that House leadership is carrying out.
To read the Manager’s Amendment to H.R. 3962, please visit: http://docs.house.gov/rules/health/111_hr3962_dingell.pdf
Congressman Henry Cuellar is a member of the U.S. House Homeland Security, Agriculture, and Government Oversight & Reform Committees in the 111th Congress. Accessibility to constituents, education, health care, economic development, and national security are his priorities. Congressman Cuellar is also a Senior Whip and member of the Blue Dog Coalition.