WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14), Chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, submitted an official comment letter urging the Department of Defense to improve its rule implementing the new claims process for servicemembers who were harmed by malpractice in military medical treatment facilities. She is advocating for greater process protections for claimants and expanding the allowable types and amount of noneconomic damages. Rep. Speier wrote the law that authorized compensation for servicemembers harmed by medical errors, which was enacted as Section 731 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020.

Rep. Speier’s comment letter includes the following proposals for the final rule:

  • Increase the limit on noneconomic damages from $500,000 (as indicated in the interim final rule) to $800,000 to better reflect the policy of the majority of states;
  • Expand the scope of allowable noneconomic damages to include emotional distress and loss of consortium, in addition to pain and suffering and physical disfigurement;
  • Establish a structured process for claimants and claims reviewers to obtain information from military medical providers about the care provided;
  • Adopt a processing timeline for claims so claimants know how long they will have to wait for a determination; and
  • Allow claimants the right to a live (in person or virtual) hearing before the appellate board if they disagree with the initial determination, enabling claimants to express their feelings about what happened to them and the pain it has caused them.

 

You can read the full comment letter here or click on the pdf attachment below. The text of the interim final rule is available here.