Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Reported to House amended, Part II (09/25/2002)

Help Efficient, Accessible, Low Cost, Timely Health Care (HEALTH) Act of 2002 - (Sec. 3) Requires a health care lawsuit to be brought within three years of the date of injury or one year after the claimant discovers or should have discovered the injury, whichever occurs first. Declares that in no event shall the time for commencement of a health care lawsuit exceed three years unless tolled for any of the following: (1) upon proof of fraud; (2) intentional concealment; or (3) the presence of a foreign body, which has no therapeutic or diagnostic purpose or effect, in the person of the injured person. Prescribes separate rules in the case of an alleged injury to a minor under the age of six.

(Sec. 4) Sets forth requirements and permissible recovery amounts for compensating patient injury, including: (1) the full amount of economic loss without limitation; (2) noneconomic damages capped at $250,000; and (3) a fair share rule. Prohibits any discount of a future noneconomic award to present value.

(Sec. 5) Requires the court to supervise payment-of-damage arrangements, limiting contingency fees.

(Sec. 6) Permits the introduction of evidence of collateral source benefits in order to prevent double recoveries.

(Sec. 7) Limits the availability of punitive damages, requiring clear and convincing evidence of malicious intent to injure or a deliberate failure to avoid substantially certain, unnecessary injury. Prohibits the award of punitive damages for products that comply with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards, absent material and knowing misrepresentation by those submitting required approval or clearance information to the FDA or an illegal payment to an FDA official. Prohibits health care providers prescribing drugs or devices (including blood products) approved by the FDA from being sued for such drugs or devices in product liability lawsuits or class action lawsuits.

(Sec. 8) Authorizes periodic payment of future damages to claimants in cases where the award is at least $50,000.

(Sec. 10) Excludes suits for vaccine-related death or injury from the requirements of this Act if otherwise covered under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

(Sec. 11) Preempts State law unless such law imposes greater protections for health care providers and organizations from liability, loss, or damages. Supersedes the Federal Tort Claims Act with respect to: (1) damage awards and contingency fees; (2) the period in which a health care lawsuit may be commenced; (3) periodic payment of future damages; and (4) specified matters regarding collateral source payments.

States that the following are not preempted: (1) any State statutory limit on the amount of compensatory or punitive damages (or the total amount of damages) that may be awarded in a health care lawsuit; and (2) any defense allowed in such a lawsuit under any other provision of State or Federal law.

(Sec. 12) Declares that any health care lawsuit arising from any injury occurring prior to enactment of this Act shall be governed by the applicable statute of limitations in effect when the injury occurred.

(Sec. 13) Declares that it is the sense of Congress that a health insurer should be liable for damages for harm caused when it makes a decision as to what care is medically necessary and appropriate.