President Obama Ignores The Issue Of Malpractice Reform
Posted Jun 16 2014 1:02am
Stanley Feld M.D., FACP,MACE
President Obama, in his signature legislation Obamacare ignores the issue of the need for malpractice reform (tort reform).
The need for tort reform is vital if President Obama really wants to reduce the cost of healthcare due to over testing.
The influence of the disinformation by the administration and the traditional media is terrifying. Inaccurate opinions by influential people will never lead to a functional, affordable healthcare system. It will only lead to increased stakeholders’ distrust and greater dysfunction in the healthcare system.
An excellent example of this disinformation is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, claiming: "The whole premise of a medical malpractice 'crisis' is unfounded."
Harry Reed, as usual, offers no data or proof for his statement. It is his opinion based on no facts.
Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel expressed his opinion in 2011.
The Physicians Foundation commissioned an extensive survey of nearly 13,575 physicians. Meritt Hawkins, the physician search and consulting firm, conducted the survey.
“The survey found that 60% of physicians would retire today , if given the opportunity—an increase from 45% in 2008. And it's not just disgruntled and tired Baby Boomers who want to abandon their healing work. At least 47% of physicians under 40 also said they would retire today, if given the opportunity.”
The survey pointed out many major problem areas.
Two specific issues consistently agreed on by physicians were malpractice concerns and the need for tort reform as well as the lack of cohesive leadership among all physician groups to represent the vested interests of physicians and their patients.
This survey is an excellent. It is a detailed survey that has heightened the awareness of physicians’ practice problems.
The percentage of healthcare costs is even greater when the Massachusetts Medical Society survey is taken into account. The amount spent for defensive medicine can be extrapolated to actual costs from this survey.
In 2003, Texas Governor Rick Perry and the Texas legislature unenthusiastically changed tort reform laws in Texas.
Rick Perry and the Texas legislature rewrote the medical malpractice laws, ending plaintiff attorneys’ practice of venue shopping for friendly judges. They also put a cap of $250,000 on noneconomic damages like pain and suffering.
These reforms have changed the malpractice legal climate in Texas. The reforms limited plaintiff’s attorneys’ profitability on frivolous liability claims.
Texans believe that because of these reforms and the lack of a state income tax, Texas is the country's best state for economic growth and job creation.
Perhaps the most visible economic impact of lawsuit reforms is the benefits experienced by Texans who have better access to high-quality healthcare.
Doctors and hospitals are using their liability insurance savings to expand services and initiate innovative programs; those savings have allowed Texas hospitals to expand charity care by 24%.
The medical malpractice business for plaintiff’s attorneys has dried up in Texas. They are moving to other states. Physicians are applying for licenses to move to Texas from high medical malpractice states.
“In 2001, according to the American Medical Association, Texas’ ranking in physicians per capita was a dismal 48th out of 50.”
The American Medical Association removed Texas from its list of states experiencing a liability crisis; marking the first time it has removed any state from the list.
A survey by the Texas Medical Association also found a dramatic increase in physicians’ willingness to resume certain procedures they had stopped performing, including obstetrics, neurosurgical, radiation and oncological procedures during the Texas malpractice crisis.
Two simple changes in the tort laws made malpractice suits unprofitable for plaintiff attorneys.
Rick Perry has been so impressed with the results of his tort reforms that he now wants to extend his state's impressive tort reform record.
Almost all of America's economic competitors in the world follow this standard. “Loser Pays” as a deterrent to law suits decreases the cost of doing business resulting in lower prices and a competitive advantage for business. “Loser Pays” would deter frivolous lawsuits.
If President Obama really wanted to do something sensible about lowering the cost of healthcare, Texas style tort reform should become the law of the land including loser pays all.
The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone