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Congressman Cole Helps Uninsured with House Votes

May 12, 2004
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – In an effort to help the millions of people who are uninsured, Congressman Cole voted for two pieces of legislation, H.R. 4279 and H.R. 4280, today that will help make health care more accessible to American workers. Both of these bills passed in the House. Congress is working on three pieces of legislation this week that will help decrease health care costs to employers and reward individuals who save for medical expenses.

Medical professional liability insurance rates have skyrocketed, causing major insurers to drop coverage or raise premiums to unaffordable levels.  H.R. 4280, Medical Malpractice Liability Limitation Bill, will put a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages and establishes a "fair share" rule so that damages are evaluated fairly and liability is more justly assigned to the appropriate party. It also prohibits attorneys from pocketing large percentages of an injured patient's reward.

"Few things would be more beneficial to our health care system than medical litigation reform. It is particularly unjust that physicians, who are invaluable to our society, face so many frivolous lawsuits – the high costs of which actually drive many doctors out of practice," Congressman Tom Cole said. "The cost of these frivolous lawsuits is passed onto all of us, either through more expensive health care, or in the case of the uninsured, no health care at all.

H.R. 4279 will allow up to $500 of unused funds deposited in Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) to be carried forward to the next year or contributed to a Health Savings Account. Currently, employees can deposit funds into FSA's, before taxes are taken out, to use throughout the year for medical expenses. But under current law funds remaining at the end of the year are forfeited to employers.

"Allowing unused funds to be rolled over will encourage employees to contribute to FSA's and will reduce the end-of -the-year excess spending and overuse of health care services," Congressman Cole said.

"Much of the uninsured problem can be corrected with changes in law. I believe the legislation the House has taken up this week, if enacted into law, will decrease the number of uninsured Americans," Congressman Cole said.