Is Medical Malpractice Reform The Answer To Our Health Care Problem?02/24/10 Robert Lorei
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Tomorrow President Barack Obama holds his health care summit meeting. Republicans and conservatives have been complaining that one important idea is not being considered in the President's and Democrat's plan for health care reform: medical malpractice reform? Is limiting lawsuits and damage awards the answer to the high cost and lack of access to medical care? The consumer group Public Citizen issued a new report this week looking into medical tort reform. Among other things the study found:
"1. Medical malpractice payments have fallen steadily for years and are now at or near historic lows.
Although an experiment in Texas has been promoted as proof of the potential benefits of so-called "tort reform," health care cost increases in that state have far outpaced the national average since it instituted strict liability limits in 2003. Meanwhile, its worst-in-the-nation uninsured rate has gotten even worse.
Most of the money paid out for medical malpractice is for serious outcomes, such as death or quadriplegia. Tort reform proponents call for damage caps that would affect the ability of seriously injured people to obtain reasonable compensation; the caps would not reduce the incidence of alleged "junk lawsuits".
A serious patient safety crisis does exist.
Addressing senseless medical errors would save several times as much money as the combined costs of the medical malpractice litigation system, including those for verdicts and settlements, defense litigation, and liability insurance companies' profits and overhead."
Public Citizen research director Taylor Lincoln joins us now to talk about the study.