A Starting Point on Medical Liability Reform

October 30, 2009

Mort Kondracke calls on Congress to move on medical liability reform in a Roll Call article today.  He says a middle ground estimate of the costs of defensive medicine — where doctors perform unnecessary tests and procedures out of fear of being sued — comes in at around $100 billion a year or $1 trillion over 10 years.

Kondracke pushes an idea pioneered by legal reformer James Wootton which promotes “early settlement offers, mistake-prevention discussions, use of independent experts and comparability standards for damage awards.”  Given the trial lawyer lobby’s pervasive influence in Congress and success at blocking real medical liability reform — such as reasonable limits on non-economic damages — the Wootton idea might be a good place to start.  Writes Kondracke:

“Before Congress and the president complete the health care reform process this year, they need to take decisive action on the malpractice reform front – not kick it into the future with mere studies.”

Whether they actually do so will test whether Congress and the Obama Administration are serious about reining in health care costs by diverting the flow of $$$ from the trial bar back to patients and doctors, where it belongs.

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