February 23rd, 2010
04:57 PM ET
13 years ago

Doctors push for malpractice reform

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/23/art.bodocs0223.gi.jpg caption="The American Medical Association and some 75 other doctors' groups have sent a letter to President Obama about medical malpractice reform."]
Washington (CNN) - Two days before the White House health care summit, the American Medical Association and some 75 other doctors' groups are focusing on one battle: malpractice reform.

In a letter to the president obtained by CNN Radio, the organizations imply that if President Obama is serious about working across party lines then malpractice or tort reform is the way to do it.

"A bipartisan agreement [on malpractice reform] would send an important signal… that Democrats and Republicans alike are willing to put aside partisanship to control costs and improve patient care," the letter states.

The physicians' groups who sent the letter range from the AMA and American Academy of Pediatrics to the Society for Vascular Surgery.

Malpractice reform is a top Republican priority, but Democrats have been resistant and question if the idea would cut health care costs. In their letter, the doctors point to a Congressional Budget Office conclusion that generally some forms of tort reform could reduce costs.

The missive is also found deep within the American Medical Association website.

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Filed under: Health care
soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. Mark NJ

    Let's get the facts straight!

    1. Tort reform is a state not a federal issue.
    2. If tied to health care it's savings are less than 1%
    3. Tort reform is not the same issue as Health Care reform
    4. Presently tort has nothing to do with health insurance rates

    Finally, for all you neo con bible belt hypocrites who only think and act for themselves and can care less for the unfortunate, what would your JESUS SAY?

    February 23, 2010 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  2. CD

    I am willing to support tort reform for malpractice or atleast malpractice as long as it didnt involve a criminal act and or was an isolated incident provided doctors get on board and support a national healthcare system.

    February 23, 2010 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  3. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    On the one hand, if you have done nothing wrong, why should you fear the law... AND, if you do make a mistake (and we all make mistakes) then face up to it, take your medicine and get it behind you.

    On the OTHER hand, we do need to find a way to eliminate or at least reduce the number of specious claims so that Doctors can live less in fear and pay lower premiums.

    This IS an important aspect, and particularly complex, what with needing to protect patients from accidents, malpractice and fraud on the one hand and still protect the good and careful doctors on the other.

    Making the "loser" liable for court costs, etc WILL NOT WORK because the wealthier and insured doctors and insurance companies can afford an "occasional" loss, but an injured party who fails to prove their case (because of a lack of funds or the concealment of evidence by doctors or insurance companies, for instance) put an unfair, usually catastrophic burden on the plaintiff, so they would be less likely to sue, even if they had a very valid case.

    February 23, 2010 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  4. Gerry NH

    If we are going to have health care for all Americans then all Americans should have the same health care. I someone want better coverage then let them pay more for it. Senator Shaheen and representative Shay porter of NH don't want it for there families at least this is what there e-mail reply says. One and out.

    February 23, 2010 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  5. Franky, Land of Lincoln

    Now this is something that I can agree on, my kind of reform.

    February 23, 2010 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  6. Jimmy James

    Tort reform won't happen. Democrats count on the lawyers as much as they do people who live off the government. John Edwards made millions chasing ambulances. Healthcare reform can't do anything to hurt their base even if it does help with costs and most Americans want it.

    February 23, 2010 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  7. Clay

    Doctors and other in the medical profession continue to raise their prices and fees, and oppose any attempts at reform, yet they want protection from malpractice lawsuits resulting from their negligence. I guess human life means nothing to these people so long as they get their money.

    February 23, 2010 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  8. SocialismBad

    So between TWO SIMPLE MEASURES, the Democrats could save probably $100 BILLION A YEAR, but htey don't seem interested. They ALREADY claim there is $50-60 BILLION in waste fraud and abuse and they claim they will get rid of it (next joke).

    If they went for tort reform and controlling malpractice claims and rates, they would save HUGE BUCKS from savings in insurance costs and defensive medical measures.

    Of course, these approaches are IGNORED by the Democrats because cost savings aren't really what the Democrats want or care about. The trial lawyers, which are the biggest Democratic lobby group, aren't about to lose their gravy train at our expense.

    Does the MSM cover this hypocrisy? Of course not....

    February 23, 2010 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  9. Kevin

    I'm a progressive liberal who is all for tort reforms. However it has proven not to lower hc costs. There are several states that have enacted tort reform on their own. Florida and Texas are two examples. I buy hc from Aetna in Texas. In two years, my premiums have gone up three times (the fourth comes in two months) on an avg. of 27% each time. I have been forced to drop a high-premium full coverage policy for my family to a lower premium (still above $500 per month) with a $5,000 per person decuctable, plus $500 prescription deductable, plus 80/20 copay.

    So, don't believe that all will be solved with tort reform. It is but one piece of the puzzle. The public option is another, buying across state lines is another, capping premium increases is another, attacking fraud is another, updating medical records is another. Obama has said he wants all of these. So what's the problem?! Oh yeah, you're too busy calling him a socialist because one piece of this reform – the public option – will provide hc to about 5% of the population through a government program (the same government program we already have). Get over it. Focus on reality.

    February 23, 2010 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  10. Doug Hughes

    A package of reforms that included a $250,000 cap on damages for pain and suffering and a $500,000 cap on punitive damages "would reduce total national health care spending by about 0.5 percent."

    Congressional Budget Office 2009

    A half a percent – and a major medical insurance company in CA tried to raise premiums on all customers an AVERAGE of 25%. But the GOP wants us to fret about Tort reform while they ignore a problem that's real and immediate and 50 times bigger.

    February 23, 2010 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  11. Gonzo in Houston

    There are frivolous malpractice suits and suits over very real malpractice. The AMA is about as effective at regulating doctors as the ABA is at regulating lawyers or the Ethics Committees are at regulating congress.

    Doctors who commit serious malpractice should not be sued for damages, they should be removed from the profession. The AMA is criminally slow in this.

    To really achieve effective malpractice reform we need to better define what is considered an acceptable practice in a given situation. We also have to make the industry less lucrative for unscrupulous attorneys.

    February 23, 2010 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  12. Gumby Danmit

    The System has been broken for so long, why would you want to fix it?

    February 23, 2010 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  13. Bob in Pa

    Now the AMA jumps on the tort reform train ?

    February 23, 2010 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  14. redleg

    How about withholding Medicare funds from states where doctors who ae liable for malpractice do not also have professional action on their license? Most lawyers have malpractice insurance, and most licensed occupations and profesions require it or an equivalent. You don't hear them whining. Why is it only doctors and Republicans who want to protect incompetence and negligence? The butcher who nuked veterans at the Philadelphia VA has an unrestricted license. 99% of doctors are just fine, we know that things sometimes go horribly wrong on their own. Why do people want to protect the quacks and nincompoops?

    February 23, 2010 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  15. leftisloony

    health care costs will go up no matter what we do....we're getting older, living longer, and keep discovering ways to help us live even longer........malpractice reform is just one piece of a large puzzle to help keep the RATE of rising healthcare costs as low as possible....we are the fattest most gluttonous country on the planet......we smoke and drink too much ( probably because of all the political infighting we see and participate in)..........google obesity and read all the medical conditions associated with it..........we need to change our habits, we need real tort reform ( not to study tort reform as obama's bill does), we need health insurance industry reform, we need more doctors and nurses, we need a couple thousand reform ideas that are the best and brightest and then pick the best for incremental reform.......what we don't need is a 2000 page monstrosity of a bill that is nothing but over the top government expansion that will destroy what works in the system and replace it with a bureaucratic nightmare with the waiting lines of the post office, the cost and scheduling efficiency of amtrak, and unimaginable cost overruns that our country cannot afford......have a nice day

    February 23, 2010 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
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