Hoeven Cosponsors Medical Liability Reform Legislation

Bill Would Help Attract Emergency Room Physicians, Lower Health Care Cost

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that he is supporting legislation to extend federal liability protections to on-call and emergency room physicians who are required to provide care under federal law. The Health Care Safety Net Enhancement Act reduces emergency health care providers’ liability exposure, which would attract additional emergency room physicians and help lower health care costs.

“We’re working to find ways to make health care more affordable and to make meaningful medical liability reforms,” said Hoeven. “Our legislation will help to protect emergency physicians and lower their malpractice insurance premiums. This will help us to not only attract more emergency room doctors, but also help lower the cost of health care by reducing lawsuits.”

Under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), emergency departments and emergency physicians are required to treat patients with emergency medical conditions, regardless of their ability to pay. As a result, emergency room doctors have a much higher liability exposure which results in higher premiums for their malpractice insurance. This legislation would provide federal liability protections when emergency and on-call physicians are providing care under the federal mandate.

Hoeven joined prime sponsor Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri on the legislation. Hoeven is sponsoring this legislation, as well as the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act, both designed to help reduce health care costs.