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July 2017 Issue


This Month's Articles

House-passed legislation would preempt state medical liability laws

The House narrowly passed an ABA-opposed bill last month that would preempt state laws to impose caps of $250,000 on non-economic damages and place limits on contingency fees that lawyers can charge in medical liability cases. In a letter to House leadership prior to the June 28 vote, ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman emphasized that the authority to determine medical liability law has rested with the states for over 200 years.

House passes series of bills to reform child welfare systems

The House passed a series of bills June 20 that highlight important provisions that were part of the Family First Prevention Services Act, bipartisan legislation that was unanimously passed by the House during the 114th Congress but failed to garner final approval. The five bills, which are cost-neutral and bipartisan, include language identical or similar to portions of the Family First legislation, including provisions to reduce wait times for foster care placements, reauthorize grants to aid families affected by parental substance abuse, address inappropriate barriers to licensing relatives as foster parents, and improve services to older youth in foster care.

Human trafficking bills move through Judiciary Committees

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved two bipartisan bills by voice vote June 29 that are aimed at combating human trafficking. S. 1312, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2017 – sponsored by committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) – includes provisions to improve training for school personnel, enhance the justice system response to human trafficking, and establish an Office of Victims Assistance. S. 1311, the Abolish Human Trafficking Act of 2017, was introduced by Cornyn and Klobuchar and would reauthorize the Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund under the Department of Justice.

ABA urges the Senate to maintain support for Medicaid; cites adverse impact on the most vulnerable populations

Calling Medicaid a “lifeline” for millions of the nation’s most vulnerable populations who cannot afford health care, the ABA urged Senate leaders to maintain support for the program as they consider legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). On July 25, the Senate narrowly voted 51-50, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a tie vote, to proceed to consideration of legislation to repeal and replace the ACA.

Washington News Briefs

About the Washington Letter

The ABA Washington Letter is a monthly publication produced by the Governmental Affairs Office to report and analyze congressional and executive branch action on legislative issues of interest to the ABA and the legal profession. The newsletter highlights ABA involvement in the federal legislative process and focuses on the association's legislative and governmental priorities and other issues on which the ABA has policy.

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