Legislation introduced to help active-duty service members who are victims of medical malpractice

Published: Jul. 14, 2023 at 12:12 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are now pushing for new legislation to help out active-duty service members who are victims of medical malpractice.

Congressmen Darrell Issa (R-CA), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) and Mike Waltz (R-FL) introduced the legislation, the Healthcare Equality and Rights for our Heroes or HERO Act, on Thursday. It would give active-duty military service members the right to take medical malpractice claims to district court.

“The summation of this bipartisan legislation is simple. If you’re an active-duty military, you were the only class of individual that is denied what anyone else would get if they entered an active duty or reserve or VA facility,” said Congressman Issa.

Currently, active duty service members who experience medical malpractice at a Department of Defense facility cannot take their claims to court.

The lawmakers introduced the bill because they say the current system is not working for those who are currently serving the country.

Congress previously passed legislation to help active-duty service with the Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act of 2019, which was included in the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. The legislation gave military officials the ability to review claims of personal injury or death caused by a Department of Defense health care provider. But the lawmakers said Thursday that the success rate for services members filing those claims has only been 2 percent.

“That’s not working and that is just not right. The HERO Act would make it work. The HERO Act would make it right,” said Congressman Panetta.

Congressman Waltz said the bill is not meant to go after medics who make mistakes in combat. He said it intends to hold military doctors accountable who are stateside, in hospitals.

“We have great military doctors, but they make mistakes. And when they make mistakes, they need to be held accountable. And the families that they impacted need to be made whole,” he said.