Below is a link to a press release outlining legislation proposed by U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Chair of the House Ways & Means Health Subcommittee, U.S. Representative Fred Upton (R-MI), former Chair of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, and U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA), Ranking Member of the House Ways & Means Oversight Subcommittee, to provide much-needed and long overdue updates to the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). As you may know, the VICP was established in 1986 to provide those that suffered injuries or adverse reactions to vaccines an alternative for compensation other than the traditional legal system. Since that time (approximately 35 years ago), however, the VICP has not had many updates to its policies and provisions. This is true despite, an exponential increase in the amount of claims being filed under the Program.
The two pieces of legislation detailed above aim to provide the Program with some necessary updates and changes that are long overdue. For example, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Modernization Act, introduced by Rep. Doggett and Rep. Upton, aims to:
- Reduce the significant case backlog by expanding the number of Special Masters (judges in the VICP) from a ceiling of 8 to a floor of 10, thereby providing it with much needed additional resources.
- Increase transparency by requiring the Special Masters to provide an annual report on caseload, number of pending cases and whether hearings have been scheduled, how many days it took for cases to receive a judgment, how many cases received a judgment (as well as the results), and any recommendations regarding the need for more Special Masters.
- Provide fair compensation by increasing the cap on damages to the amount it would be today based on inflation increases and establish an inflation-based formula to automatically increase the cap moving forward. Currently, the cap for pain and suffering under the VICP is limited to $250,000 (even in cases of catastrophic injury) and upon information and belief has not been raised since the original legislation passed.
- Ensure consumers have sufficient time to file claims by increasing the statute of limitations from 3 years to 5 years.
- Expedite the addition of new vaccines to the program by requiring the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to promulgate rulemaking to add a CDC-recommended vaccine or injury to the injury table within 6 months of a recommendation rather than 2 years.
- Expand the types of vaccines eligible for coverage under the VICP by including vaccines and injuries recommended by the CDC for routine administration in adults.
Similarly, the Vaccine Access Improvement Act, introduced by Rep. Doggett and Rep. Kelly, would:
- Streamline the application of the 75-cent excise tax on covered-vaccine doses by eliminating the requirement that Congress pass legislation to apply the tax each time a new vaccine is added to the VICP. The tax would now be automatically applied once HHS adds a vaccine to the injury table.
Here is a link to the press release for the two pieces of proposed legislation:
If you or someone you know sustained an injury or an adverse reaction after receiving a vaccination, please contact our firm as you may be entitled to compensation. Our firm is experienced in litigating vaccine injury claims.