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Medical malpractice suits become issue in health-reform debate

Posted by Frank Spector | Mar 18, 2009 | 0 Comments

The AP (3/18, Werner) reports in an update to yesterday's story that “the Obama administration and key congressional Democrats are taking a hard look at the nation's medical malpractice system as part of a broader health care overhaul.” Now, the “trial lawyers' lobby is preparing to distribute a brief on Capitol Hill casting medical malpractice as a small cost in the overall health system.” However, “many top Democrats and administration officials say something must be done to curb medical malpractice costs to help pay for revamping the nation's $2.4 trillion health system.” It appears that “both lawyers and doctors say they're open to alternative dispute ideas.” However, “changing the legal system will not make anyone healthier or save one life,” said Linda Lipsen, senior vice president of public affairs at the American Association for Justice.

In the Health Blog on the Wall Street Journal (3/17) website, Sarah Rubenstein wrote, “The issue of medical malpractice lawsuits is among the touchiest in the debate over rising health-care costs” because “doctors are burdened by the high cost of malpractice insurance and say they're forced to practice ‘defensive' medicine, while lawyers say the suits are a check in the system meant to protect patients.” While “President Obama and other Democrats are signaling they're open to some changes…the details aren't clear.”

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Frank Spector

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