In last night’s highly-anticipated speech to the nation regarding his plan for Health Care Reform, President Obama opened the door to the possibility to one area of reform being pushed by the insurance and medical lobbyists: medical malpractice tort reform. This portion of President Obama’s speech came as a huge blow to personal injury lawyers, who collectively represent hundreds of thousands of people each year who are killed or permanently injured by preventable medical errors.
Specifically, President Obama stated in his remarks to a joint session of Congress on health care, “I don’t believe malpractice reform is a silver bullet, but I’ve talked to enough doctors to know that defensive medicine may be contributing to unnecessary costs. So I am proposing that we move forward on a range of ideas about how to put patient safety first and let doctors focus on practicing medicine. I know that the Bush Administration considered authorizing demonstration projects in individual states to test these issues. It’s a good idea, and I am directing my Secretary of Health and Human Services to move forward on this initiative today.”
He provided no other details. It is unclear what “demonstration projects” might be implemented to test potential medical malpractice reform. What seems clear, however, is that the goal of these “projects” or reforms is to reduce the amount of damages paid out by insurance companies in medical malpractice cases, with the presumption that by doing so would lower the cost of health care for everyone.
There are several problems with this theory. First, several recent independent studies have shown that medical liability reform is unlikely to reduce health care costs. Second, reducing accountability for medical errors will not improve the quality of health care. Third, limiting malpractice liability allows the insurance companies to profit on the backs of those people most seriously injured or killed by medical errors.
One thing is for certain: top medical malpractice lawyers will do everything in their power to preserve the rights of people to hold negligent doctors and hospitals accountable for their medical errors. For a free consultation with one of our Chicago injury lawyers, call Passen & Powell at (312) 527-4500.