AHA Supports Bill to Provide Liability Protections to Safety-Net Providers

The American Hospital Association has voiced its support for the Health Care Safety Net Enhancement Act, a bill that would provide medical liability protections to hospitals and physicians providing emergency care.

The bill would amend the Public Health Service Act to deem a hospital — or the hospital's affiliated emergency department, physician group or physician — as an employee of the Public Health Service for the purpose of any civil action that may stem from providing emergency and post-stabilization care after Jan. 1, 2014.

Hospitals and physicians who provide services pursuant to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act would receive medical liability protections under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

AHA Executive Vice President Rich Pollack said the legislation "is a positive step toward comprehensive medical liability reform," according to a letter to the bill's sponsors.

"The increased costs that result from the current flawed medical liability system not only hinder access to affordable healthcare, they also threaten the stability of the hospital field, which employs more than 5 million people and continues to be one of the largest sources of private-sector jobs," Mr. Pollack wrote.

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