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The campaign to slip widespread tort reforms into America’s health care bill is gaining momentum it doesn’t deserve because people are blithely accepting its exaggerations, distortions, and outright lies as fact.

To combat this, the American Association for Justice has just released a report called “Five Myths About Medical Negligence,” which exposes the tort reformers’ media campaign as the propaganda it really is.

Myth #2: Malpractice claims drive up health care costs.

Fact: Numerous studies have shown that malpractice claims have almost zero impact on the cost of health care in the U.S. As a good example, Americans for Insurance Reform released a study over the summer week showing that in recent years, doctor premiums and medical malpractice claims have overwhelmingly dropped, while the profits of the medical malpractice insurance industry have soared. Significantly, the study concludes that placing further limits on the liability of negligent doctors and unsafe hospitals would be unjustifiable, and would put almost no dent in our country’s health care costs.

The AIR study adds that because medical malpractice premiums amount to less than 0.5% of overall health care costs, with medical malpractice claims amounting to 0.2% (yes, these are tiny decimals) of health care costs, limiting liability any more will simply not have a significant effect on these health care costs. “If Congress completely eliminated every single medical malpractice lawsuit,” it says, “including all legitimate cases, as part of health care reform, overall health care costs would hardly change, but the costs of medical error and hospital-induced injury would remain and someone else would have to pay.”

The idea that malpractice lawsuits are unduly clogging the legal system while wasting American taxpayers’ time and money is simply bogus. On the other hand, medical negligence is very real, and any responsible health care reform bill must find a way to meaningfully address issues of patient safety.

Stay tuned as the week goes on for more myths about tort reform.

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