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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 #4: Malpractice Claims Drive up Doctors’ Premiums.

Fact: Malpractice claims actually don’t have that much to do with the premiums doctors are paying. When Americans for Insurance Reform (AIR) conducted a study of the relationship between malpractice payouts and doctor premiums, it found that while doctor premiums have increased astronomically in the past few years, there has been no “explosion” in lawsuits, jury awards or legal fees to justify such an increase.

Rather, doctor premiums have been driven up by the economic situation of the insurance industry. When insurance company profits are suffering from declining interest rates and investments, they make up for it by charging more in premiums. This, and not malpractice lawsuits, is the reason doctor premiums have gone up so dramatically in recent years. (And by the way, according to a previous AAJ report, malpractice insurers earn more than 99% of Fortune 500 companies.)

The idea that malpractice lawsuits are unduly clogging the legal system while wasting American taxpayers’ money and driving doctors out of business 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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