As a bill to reform the nation’s medical liability system advances in the House, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has determined that enacting such legislation would reduce national healthcare spending by an estimated 0.4 percent. This equates to a reduction in the federal deficit of about $40 billion over the next 10 years.

The legislation – H.R. 5, the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2011 – would: establish, with some exceptions, a three-year statute of limitations from the date that an injury is discovered; restrict punitive damages; and cap noneconomic damages at $250,000. The HEALTH Act has been introduced repeatedly throughout the past several Congresses, and has consistently passed the House when the chamber is controlled by Republicans.

Most recently, H.R. 5 in the current 112th Congress has been approved by the House Judiciary Committee and is awaiting similar consideration before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. While its passage in the House is all but inevitable, its prospects in the Senate are less clear.