Healthcare Reform but No Tort Reform

When President Obama pledged to address medical malpractice liability concerns as part of healthcare reform, and directed the Department of Health and Human Services to move forward with incentives for states aimed at curbing lawsuits, insurer and doctor groups welcomed the step but cautioned the devil would be in the details of the plan. The details of House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 1,990-page healthcare bill that passed Saturday on a 220-215 vote underscores the need for that cautionary note. A provision in the bill does establish an incentive program for states to adopt and implement alternatives to medical liability litigation, BUT a state is not eligible for incentive payments if it puts a law on the books that limits attorney fees or imposes caps on damages. A November 6 OpEd in the Washington Times calls the provision a poison pill:

“Fee limits or damage caps are the two most popular lawsuit reforms in states across the country, and they are demonstrably effective at cutting malpractice-insurance rates and attracting more doctors to the states that embrace them. To pretend to encourage tort reform while punishing states that actually implement reforms is akin to encouraging a diet while assessing fines for losing weight. It’s dishonest and it ought to be a deal killer.†

What do you think? Check out I.I.I. information on medical malpractice.

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