Public Papers

Message to the Congress Transmitting Proposed Legislation on Health Care


To the Congress of the United States:

I am pleased to transmit today for your immediate consideration and enactment the ``Health Care Liability Reform and Quality of Care Improvement Act of 1992.'' Also transmitted is a section-by-section analysis.

This legislative proposal would assist in stemming the rising costs of health care caused by medical professional liability. During recent years, the costs of defensive medical practice and of litigation related to health care disputes have had a substantial impact on the affordability and availability of quality medical care. The bill attacks these very serious problems.

The bill would establish incentives for States to adopt within 3 years quality assurance measures and tort reforms. In addition, the health care reforms would apply to medical care and treatment funded through specific Federal programs pertaining to health care and employee benefits and to claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The tort reforms include: (1) a reasonable cap on noneconomic damages; (2) the elimination of joint and several liability for those damages; (3) prohibiting double recoveries by plaintiffs; and (4) permitting health care providers to pay damages for future costs periodically rather than in a lump sum.

Last year I recommended enactment of the ``Health Care Liability Reform and Quality of Care Improvement Act of 1991.'' The enclosed bill includes the core provisions of that bill and expands its scope to ensure that treatment under federally funded health care and Federal employee benefit programs is subject to key reforms regardless of State action. Claims arising from such health care would first be considered through a fair system of nonbinding arbitration, in an effort to resolve the claims without litigation.

I urge the prompt and favorable consideration of this proposal, which would complement the other initiatives the Administration is undertaking regarding malpractice and quality of care.

George Bush

The White House,

July 2, 1992.