June 15th, 2009
11:47 AM ET
9 years ago

Obama may consider limits on medical malpractice suits

The AMA agrees with Obama on the need for health care reform but not how to go about it.

The AMA agrees with Obama on the need for health care reform but not how to go about it.

(CNN) - President Obama said Monday that limits on medical malpractice lawsuits could be a necessary part of overhauling the nation's ailing health care system.

In a speech to the 158th annual meeting of the American Medical Association, Obama cited the need for doctors to cut health care costs by reducing the number of unnecessary tests and procedures that are performed to reduce the risk of malpractice claims. Such reductions might require restrictions on malpractice liability to protect doctors, the president said.

"I'm not advocating caps on malpractice awards, which I personally believe can be unfair to people who've been wrongfully harmed, but I do think we need to explore a range of ideas about how to put patient safety first, how to let doctors focus on practicing medicine, how to encourage broader use of evidence-based guidelines," he said.

Obama also said that reforming health care requires changing the focus from the quantity of treatment to the quality of care.

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Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (173 Responses)
  1. Fair is Fair

    @ Randolph Carter:

    If it wasn't so nasty, it would be called C. Facile. Have a nice day!

    June 15, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  2. Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later

    phoenix86 June 15th, 2009 12:37 pm ET

    Doctors and patients have no such luck. The US has the best health care in the world. That will end with the Obama administration.

    Really? Perhaps that is why we spend more per capita for health care than any other nation, yet we are in the middle of the pack for life expectancy, and nowhere near the best for infant mortality. We spend over $100 billion a year on uninsured medical costs, often for conditions that would not have arisen with preventative care and or early diagnosis. Hospitals provide about $34 billion in uncompensated care per year, which is paid for by guess what, higher rates for those who are lucky enough to have insurance. Insurance is rapidly becoming out of reach even for working families
    Welcome to he United States of America – you can only be healthy if you are wealthy – I've got mine, to h@ll with you.
    And no, half of the uninsured are not aliens. According to the Kaiser foundation 80 percent are either native or naturlized citizens

    Seems like Obama is not the one that is the fool here.

    June 15, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  3. strong

    The medicare system is hopelessly flawed. Obama will not be able to satisfy everybody no matter what he does.

    Hillary couldn't get anything solved years ago and I don't much expect The One to do much better.

    In the meantime, keep yourselves healthy!

    June 15, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  4. Julien

    What I don't understand is why European countries (I was born in France) have universal health care which works fine and why this country is so backwards and cannot give its citizens what is a RIGHT not a privilege.

    June 15, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  5. Bill

    American Health Care = Doctors From India + Nurses From Philippines + Equipment Made in China.

    June 15, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  6. Elmer

    What are we really considering here. Another government bureaucracy to compete with the pitiful one we have with the insurance companies. Way too many resources are drained from health care by insurance company overhead including overpaid employees and and luxury office surroundings; and look at medicare where the government is involved – they have the right to tax the citizens without limit and still can't balance the books. Visit your local Blue Cross office or nedicare office when you get a chance. And they look stellar next to any other government – run project. When is the last time you heard anything about a government project that wasn't over-budget by huge amounts and much of it not accounted for!?! Heck, they couldn't even distribute free digital boxes without creating a log-jam and leaving millions without TV this past weekend. Mr. President, fix what is there already. Your employees don't know how to do it better. And using the health care system to employ the unemployed and unemployable is a really bad idea. You want the smartest people you can garner to work it.

    June 15, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  7. makesUwonder

    If someone (Obama and the Democrats) have to work this hard at this sell job, then there is no doubt it has got to be wrong.

    June 15, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  8. HonestMistake

    The problem with the current plans being floated around is that they assume the entire problem with our health care system is the health insurance companies. I don't hear any talk about malpractice lawsuits or premiums, cost of research or cost of hospital expenses.

    Insurance premiums are not going to magically go down because more people are on a Medicare type program. So everyone with private insurance will still be paying the same, plus the additional cost of the taxes needed to fund the new program.

    Look around, do you know anyone who does not have health insurance. Now, what do they have that they can afford: a cell phone, cable TV, a pet? Do they spend money on cigarettes or alcohol? Do they go to the movies every Saturday night? May people CHOOSE not to have health insurance so they can afford stuff.

    To fault doctors for charging $200 an office visit without knowing what their costs to keep the doors open is, is short sighted. A video editor can charge $175 an hour, a graphic designer $150, a lawyer $300; an accountant $200.

    June 15, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  9. Julia Byrd- Hayden Idaho

    We need a one payor plan, if you want a priviate plan go for it, who cares, people deserve healthcare for all. It's a right not a priviledge. Let the republicans pay for their ins. if they want. They want tax breaks for the rich and make the middle class pay for everyone. What a bunch of greedy hypocrits.

    June 15, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  10. ran

    Until we do away with health care for profit, we will never get cost under control. When a CEO of a health insurance co is making multimillion $. and the company is more concern with giving out dividends to shareholders then paying for services, we will never get control of health care cost or cover everyone.

    To mandate coverage will only give the insurance co. more money for salaries/bonuses to executives and dividends to shareholders with out reducing cost or improving services.

    A single payer non profit system for basic health care is the only real solution and we as a nation need to realize this and get behind such a system if we are going to continue to be a great nation.

    June 15, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  11. Will

    Looks like the health insurance lobby has its "hired guns" on the internet posting in full force today...

    "Enough June 15th, 2009 12:21 pm ET

    Ya think Doctors want to become Government employees??"

    Nobody in their right mind believes this! How much do "they" pay you to post such nonsense?

    June 15, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  12. AndrewCPA

    As someone who works with a lot of Federal folks in DC, their insurance is just like any non-Federal employee... is is from an insurance company (BC/BS, Atena, etc). The only difference is we the taxpayers pay more towards their share something like 66% so they only have to pay a little each month. As for the Feds running an insurance program, I would not be so thrilled, just give people/employers money to purchase insurance.

    To lower costs.... cap malpractice awards. There are Drs, who are great, but spend half the year paying their insurance b/c they are in a high risk field, but have never been sued. Many people have said if this can capped then medical fees would decline. But the Dems are behind the lawyers who love to sue the medical field and others. How do you think Edwards became so rich??

    Work to lower the malpractice in this field and others where things have are out of hand and cost will lower.

    June 15, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  13. DJ



    June 15, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  14. Fool me once, shame on you! Fool me err...

    I understand why private healthcare industry is opposed to a government insurance option – profits. What I don't understand is why the rest of the business community doesn't rally behind the government insurance option which will lead to lower insurance costs accross the board, thereby reducing huge health insurance costs to all kinds of employers.

    Isn't it a bit contradictory for republicans who claim to be defenders of a free market to be opposed to a public healthcare option which would encourage competition in the health insurance industry?

    If government can effectively operate the finest military machine in the world, why would government not be able to run a public health insurance program?

    Who is fooling who??

    June 15, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  15. Chipster

    My company changed insurance companies because our current one wanted an 84% increase in the premiums for less service. We finally found one that was only a 55% increase. Please don't even try to blame this on lawsuits because lawsuits and awards have decreased over time while insurance and health costs have gone through the roof!

    It costs taxpayers more to pay for the uninsured than national health care will cost to implement. Also, to southerncousin, the $1.7 trillion deficit you cite doesn't include the cost of the wars and other supplemental spending. Bush doubled the deficit he inherited. Obama is including all of the costs in his budget plans – not hiding them in supplementals!

    June 15, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  16. 2pacolypse Now

    The GOP doesn't want a government option not because of what they see in Canada, but big pharma and the health insurance companies have been lining their pockets so long now they are scared the big dollars won't be there anymore. So transparent of that sorry GOP party, and them sorry Democrats who keep sabotaging trying to get universal healthcare. You can bailout banks nonstop without blinking but you can't make sure all of us hard working americans who put you clowns in office have GOOD, Comprehensive, Top quality health insurance, what a joke these people are. You wanna find out how to pay for this, then let's start with ending the IRAQ WAR, now. Not 2012 but how bout in 2010.

    June 15, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  17. Will

    NOBODY I know has a positive impression of American health care – not a single person – and yet the advocates of "business as usual" seem to make up the plurality of people posting here.

    I guess that the giant pharmaceutical and health insurance companies in this country really are sophisticated... when it comes to using OUR money to pay people to stump for them on major internet blogs.

    June 15, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  18. joe m

    'government-funded'?????? with what money? oh that's right, the tax on soda, cigarettes, alcohol, company offered health insurance, and what ever else 'bad' thing the government can argue needs to be taxed for the good of the country.

    June 15, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  19. Independent_me

    Obama is trying to do right by the American people. The Repugs and the special interests are doing their darndest to make him fail. They lover their power more than they love this country.Wake up people! The Repugs talk a good talk but they do nothing for the average American!

    June 15, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  20. Bld

    Our healthcare is good if you have enough money. But most of us don't have enough money, and never will.

    Our system cannot be improved as long as insurance companies are in control, or even involved. We cannot afford to pay multi-millon dollar salaries to dozens (hundreds?) of insurance company executives. Executives who contribute NOTHING to our healthcare. They just work for their sharholders. Who do you suppose is the biggest shareholder? Hint: its not us.

    June 15, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  21. TCM

    yeah, "incompetent,'s" trying the scare tactic he used when we just "absolutely had to sign the stimupork pkg...." and virtually none of the money's been doled out; saving it for his re-election funding.....

    To tell the AMA that, ".... America could be going the way of GM..." is nothing short of an extortion-bullying type tactic; inferring that if they don't buy into it, it's in a way, their fault....such pyschology. When in essence, he's trying nothing more than his Alinksky tactic of trying to spread the weatlth around....and to uproot a any success in this country that is independent of the government. I hope the doctors and administrators of the AMA tell him to stick it....his efforts to "sweeten,' the deal by saying the administration would, "look at," malpractice reform, says nothing......in other words Obama's continuing to lie to whoever to get his way.....impeachment for Obama!

    June 15, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  22. lori

    Get it passed already. Stop trying to be so popular, just get the ball rolling. The insurance companies can take a little competition and hopefuly this can stop doctors from charging $300 for every visit. I already wait an hour 1 or 2 to see a doctor, service is whatever.

    Let the opponents in Washington give up their government insurance plan and get one of these private ones and see how they like it. I bet they'll change their minds pretty quickly.

    Opponents always saying we're going to leave this debt to our children, will sorry Bush got us in this hole in the first place. He took a surplus and went on a shopping spree.

    Obama wants everyone to have health insurance at least my kids won't have to worry about that.
    I have health insurance and it just horrible and I'm lucky enough to have insurance.

    June 15, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  23. TCM

    @ WILL –

    NOBODY? perhaps you hang with the wrong crowd. I didn't have health insurance...then, I joined the military, went through college, graduated....worked and found a job with good benefits....and have health insurance which I pay into.....wow! That's unheard of....actually working for something.....If people would spend more time working on providing for themselves, instead of looking to the messiah for a handout, the country will recover quicker. Seeking resolution from an administration with nothing but a power agenda will leave you disappointed.. After all, if you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until Obama makes it "free..."

    June 15, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  24. skyhawkdriver

    I was just listening to excerpts from obamas' one hour plus to the ama..what an empty shirt..just more government expansion..the government can't pay for the programs it has now..social security is already going bankrupt..how about tort reform??..what did shakespear say about the lawyers??

    June 15, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  25. Deborah from KC/RN

    We will never be free from the abuse and manipulation of our health care to enrich the few, unless we go to a not for profit system. Ask anyone who has a state or federal healthplan and they will tell you theirs is better than the privatly insured have. Without the enormous profits taken by the CEO's and other officers of the big insurance, big pharmecutical, and big health care chain owners; we would all be able to afford health care.

    June 15, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
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