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)

    what happens if the doctor does some thing wrong? what if the doctor gets a GOD COMPLEX?

    June 15, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  2. Texas Teacher

    Oh, and this major propaganda point that we will have to wait for surgical procedures is just that.. propaganda. Universal Health Care means that the most important LIFE THREATENING surgeries come BEFORE those that are not. I want that! If I need a four way bypass surgery to save my life... I surely hope that I would receive presidence over someone who wants a tummy tuck... or even a tuballigation! Come on, People, it is only commonsense! And that is what I have learned from my European and Canadians friends.... they laugh at our fears for something that will help us all!

    June 15, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  3. Ray from Nashville

    Tort reform is a good place to start in the health care reform fight. In fact, tort reform can help to solve a lot of ills in this country as a whole.

    The only risk that a government health insurance option poses is to the incredible profits that private insurance companies pull in every year. These companies are the ones funding the "no government option/socialized medicine" propaganda machine. Through them, we hear of all the problems with the government run health care systems in England and Canada, yet they don't want to talk about the private insurance companies denying a people treatment or coverage. They don't want to talk about the problems in our hospitals. like the lady in NY who died in the ER because no one could be bothered to take a look at her. They don't want to discuss the cost to companies to provide health care insurance for their employees. They don't want to discuss the profits they make each year. They do want to use scare tactics to fight any pro-consumer legislation tooth and nail.

    Wise up, everyone, and see who's behind the anti-health care movement.

    June 15, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  4. Denise

    I don't blame Obama. Some of these payouts are outrageous.

    June 15, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  5. Belle1

    Don't you love the words "may consider"?

    Our President is a master...it leads doctors to believe he will...yet considering and doing are two different things.

    I recall he said "I may consider drilling offshore" and "I may consider building nuclear power plants".

    Once he has the support needed however...how quickly he forgets.

    June 15, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  6. Fair is Fair

    Tort reform... can it be?????

    I don't agree with your policies very often, Mr. Obama. But count me in if you're serious about this.

    June 15, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  7. Rob in NC

    Fixing malpractice lawsuits and getting doctors lower malpractice insurance is a good step.

    Ultimately, what needs to happen is people need to be able to shop around for the health plan they want the same way we shop around for car or life insurance. I think a government-backed health plan is a good idea in so much as it would give people CHOICE and force the private companies to seriously compete for business which should naturally drive down costs. The co-op compromise being floated around is possibly a good idea as well. The bottom line is that people need to have CHOICE and be able to shop around. Why should someone who works just as hard as the next guy have to pay a ton more out of pocket simply because his employer has a different plan?

    Preventative care has to be a part of it too. People need to be encouraged to stay healthy. And I would like to see people be able to get discounts on their premiums for staying healthy, much like car insurance companies give discounts for clean records. If you maintain a healthy weight, don't smoke, don't drink, then you should pay less than someone who overeats, smokes 2 packs a day, or drinks a six-pack every night.

    June 15, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  8. Texas Teacher

    Now come on.... malpractice keeps US from being the victims of poor doctors who don't know or care what they are doing! Malpractice is NOT what is keeping our health care expenses obscene! It is the amount of profit all the health care enmties make off our Illness... NOT our good health or our cured health, but our illness in and of itself!

    June 15, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  9. Gary

    Malpractice reform is a key part of improving healthcare and lowering costs. Billions of tests are done to CYA against malpractice that are unnecessary and expensive. Here is how to fix it:

    1. Malpractice lawyers can make no more than $200/hour and cannot share in the putative damages.
    2. Trained jurors hear the cases so that they actually understand the medical issues involved instead of making a decision based on who's lawyer can make the best emotional appeal
    3. Putative damages go to a fund that fixes the system to prevent that sort of event from happening again.

    This plan would go a long way to helping doctors and patients.


    June 15, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  10. gt

    trial lawyers will have a fit ,,, never gone to happen....nice try though mr president

    June 15, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  11. Kevin -- Evansville, Indiana

    People should realize that doctors are only human, and any medical procedure, no matter how seemingly trivial, can go wrong. I think aside from yanking a license, IMO the only time it's really fair to sue a doctor is if they intentionally harm someone. You shouldn't be able to sue someone for being a lousy doctor, and get a goldmine of cash.

    Bad luck is always going to happen to people, when someone else is trying to help them. That's part of the risk of using any service for that matter. The point should be ending the doctors career if they are not qualified. Not creating a giant money game that makes the lawyers rich and pushes up the cost of malpractice insurance for doctors. If they are worthy of getting sued, this shouldn't happen but once, and then they should be out of business.

    June 15, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  12. Texas Teacher

    Okay... I'm going to stop reading the other comments... it just discusses me at some of the comments... I am sick of propaganda! And I am so pleased at how many comments are in favor of Universal Care and understand what it truly means to ALL of us!

    June 15, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  13. PJ

    As a former Hospital Administrator I believe limits should be placed upon malpractice suits; however, I also think Doctors found negligent should have the most severe discipline possible such as a year or years suspension. It should hurt their wallets.
    Malpractice suits are the only way doctors can be frightened into practicing good medicine since they do a lousy job at policing themselves.

    June 15, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  14. HJA

    southerncousin June 15th, 2009 11:51 am ET

    He wants more money. Bush left office with a $1.7 trillion deficit which was disgraceful. If he gets what he wants (and lets face it no one is stopping him) this moron will leave with an $8.4 trillion deficit, and there will be those on these pages who will still defend the stupidty because his telepromter speaks so well.

    Bush came into office with a $230 billion surplus. But then the GOP gave a $1.35 trillion tax cut in 2001 and a $1.5 trillion tax cut in 2003, Add defense military spending for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and bye bye surplus. I love the way GOOPERS blame it all on President Obama and the Democrats. I guess you could call it selective amnesia. Oh and your not my cousin. 🙂

    June 15, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  15. history repeats


    bush left office with a 1.7 trill defecit but everybody with a brain in there head knows it was gonna cost WAY more than that to fix the mess he created. you think its just about dollar for dollar? than why did you vote for bush in 2004 if bill clinton left a SURPLUS when he left and bush went into the elections with a defecit? GROW UP

    June 15, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  16. Scott the Independent

    Limits are reasonable. Lets face it – some of the awards granted in malpractice cases were beyond the scope of anything reasonable. However, with that said in the event that continuous care is required from the point of injury moving forward that care should be written into and part of the settlement; as opposed to just giving the plaintiff money and letting them be on their own. Including the cost of care and arranging same would reduce the financial payout significantly.

    June 15, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  17. Dan, TX

    This guy does not know what he is saying. Why do we have most inexperienced person in the White House. This is a job training for him. What a pity. He cannot lead and he does not kjnbow what he is doing. He wants to confuse American people and try to bring in his Universal health care. Watch out...

    June 15, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  18. res45

    LOL Limits on malpractices lawsuits,ya right give me a break this country thrives on lawsuits. And health care without profit, I guess there going to do it for free,what person in there right mind would go to medical school for 8 years and want to start a practice. If you want government run health care go to the VA see how you like that.

    June 15, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  19. Pee Wee

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

    Wow! Really?!?! I've been telling my friends this since the early 90s. I must be some kind of genius or somethin'!

    I had hope after reading that statement, until he continued with the following:

    "I'm not advocating caps on malpractice awards, which I personally believe can be unfair to people who've been wrongfully harmed,...

    Then, what exactly are you saying? I'm for it, but I'm against it.

    If people have been wrongfully harmed, that shows INTENT, and criminal precedent should be followed, that means jail time.

    June 15, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  20. history repeats


    ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? are you in highschool and still covered by your parents health insurance? I DONT HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE RIGHT NOW because it will cost me $2000 a month to cover my family!! i guess im being cheap though right? or im being inconsiderate to the doctor? you people have no idea whats going on in the real world!!!

    June 15, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  21. Citizen from NY

    Bush tried that.....but only limited it to Obstetrical and Gynecology practices....like other specialites don't have huge amounts of malpractice suits????

    But, lowering the caps on medical malpractice awards, I think, will in turn mean a lower dollar amount for physicians, etc. to pay for malpractice insurance, which will mean ultimately lower health care costs to patients.

    But Obama's plan of socializing medicine....like in other countries...wouldn't that mean longer waits to see a doctor, unless it is emergent/urgent...and higher overall taxes to the public to pay for the socialized medicine?

    June 15, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  22. mw

    The government watchdogs need to investigate the gouging of Medicare by providers of respiratory equiment. We need more medical peer review investigators looking into providers. I see how much these respiratory equipment providers over charge for monthly supplies. They do not get reimbursed the amount they actually charge Medicare and the supplements to Medicare, but they certainly get more money for the equipment than it is work, plus they receive twice a year service charges, and never look at the equipment. A lot of money is being drained from the Medicare funds because CMS (used to be HCFA) does not have peer review investigating medical charges. A lot of those organizations went away in 1995 when the worthless managed care scheme took over the AMA.

    June 15, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  23. turgic39

    The right wing sound machine is fighting back hard because their constituents that have lined their pockets along with the blue dog dems know this is what the people want. Ever since Ronald Reagan the corporations have gotten the nod over the people of the country. We have to pull together and push Obama back toward the people. In my opinion it is the republicans that are so government with their corrupt lobbying tactics.

    June 15, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
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