Tort Reform, particularly malpractice tort reform, has long been a rallying cry of Conservatives/Republicans. They have repeatedly claimed that reducing or capping non-economic damages (mostly punative and pain and suffering) will have a significant impact on medical cost inflation.
And, like many arguments they have made in opposition to the President's proposed health care reform proposal and their opposition to the watered down versions that passed out of the House and Senate, these claims are exxagerated at best, down right deceptive at worst.
I had planned on presenting a unfortunately complex proposal for tort reform that protected doctors (and their insurers) who had clean records of not losing malpractice suits. It would advocate normalizing the definition of clean records by speciality since some specialities get sued far more than others. Doctors who had repeatedly lost malpractice suits would not have any limitations on punative award. Good doctors are rewarded with a level of protection, bad doctors are exposed to huge awards. It would forbid sealed judgements and would require that all settlements be reported even if they were settled out of court.
But I just don't see any need for a system that complex. The cure would be worse than the disease.
The best studies that I have seen indicate the the total cost of malpractice cases in the United States is about 1.5% of all health care costs. How ever you measure the cost of excessive awards, whatever you think that means, the vast majority of that 1.5% slice is valid and wouldn't be reduced by any of the things Republicans/Conservatives have proposed. The OMB puts the total potential savings to the US government from tort reform at $5Billion a year. Thats nice money, but a very tiny fraction of what we are spending.
There is no statistical evidence that I can find that malpractice costs are driving physicians out of the practice of medicine or driving them from high liability states to states with restricted liability.
And there is no evidence that caps on non-economic awards have actually led to reduced rates of litigation or to lower premiums for malpractice insurance.
So, unless I have got the facts wrong, what is the driver behind malpractice tort reform?
Other than protecting Insurance Company profits, what problem is tort reform trying to fix and have the caps on awards that many states have imposed on malpractice awards actually addressed those problems?
If someone can make a real fact based case for tort reform, lets see it.
But just to keep making the same old claims that aren't supported by the studies that have been done, is just another example of Conservatives/Republicans fact free arguments.
What am I missing here?
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