Almost everyone can agree that lower costs are among the most needed reforms in our health care system. Tort reform will not lead to lower costs. The facts show that malpractice suits and premiums combined add up to a tiny fraction of our health care bills.
A July 2009 study by the Americans for Insurance Reform shows 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.
“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.”
Even Texas tort reform supporters admit that lower health care costs were never a goal of tort reform in Texas. Look at their comments in the blogs; they all openly say so.
Rather than limiting patients’ rights, real health care reform must meaningfully address the growing number of preventable medical errors (now almost 100,000 a year) that cause serious injuries and even death every day in America.
As the AAJ has put it,
According to the Institute of Medicine, 98,000 people die every year from preventable medical errors – and this number doesn’t include those seriously injured. This is the sixth leading cause of death in America, equivalent to two 737s crashing every day. Trial attorneys see first-hand the effects medical errors have on patients and their families. The best way to have fewer medical malpractice cases is to reduce the number of medical errors. If less people need to seek legal recourse, that means patients are getting safer. Patients that are safer also means lower costs to the health care system. Everyone can support this.
Patients’ rights cannot be used as bargaining chips or compromised. This is why decreasing medical errors is a critical pillar of our efforts, as it will not only decrease the amount of malpractice, but more importantly, keep patients safer. –AAJ
Take away medical liability and you take away the only meaningful check and balance a patient has on the impossible monstrosity of a system that American health care has become. Do not support tort reform as part of this country’s health care reform efforts.