Health Care Reform Begins With Tort Reform

Kate Whitman

(Peapack, NJ)… Fiscal Conservative Kate Whitman, Republican for Congress today shared details of her plan to reform our nation’s broken health care system in an effort to make health insurance affordable for all families.  Whitman stated, “The unfortunate and unnecessary rapid rise in healthcare costs to individuals and employers is due to an unchecked medical tort system.� 

New Jersey’s tort liability system is ranked second to worst in the nation, in the 2008 study released by the non-partisan Pacific Research Institute (PRI), which specializes in health care policy.  An earlier study by PRI found that excessive wasteful tort costs topped $589 Billion annually, which is equivalent to about a $7,848 annual tax for the average American family of four.  Last years PRI study determined that less than 15 cents per tort settlement actually compensates the victim.

“At a time when Americans are struggling to make ends meet, politicians are wasting our tax dollars on earmark spending while lawyers are driving up our healthcare costs through frivolous lawsuits,� stated Kate Whitman.  She continued, “This is unacceptable.  By eliminating frivolous lawsuits we can begin to reform our health care system and bring affordable health care to every American man, woman and child.�

To combat potential lawsuits, doctors now order additional and unnecessary medical tests which total over $124 Billion annually.  These extra defensive medicine tests have led to about 3-4 million Americans being unable to afford health insurance coverage because of rising premiums.  “We need to bring affordable private-sector and free-market driven, accessible health coverage to Americans, not drive more people out of the system because of redundant medical tests,� Whitman commented.

A recent Star-Ledger article examining the negative effect of medical torts in New Jersey found that a whopping “93 percent of pharmaceutical mass torts in our court system are brought by out-of-state plaintiffs,� and “three out of four employers have been sued or threatened with a lawsuit in the past five years.� (Star-Ledger, 5-4-08)  Whitman responded, “As New Jersey residents we bear the cost of those lawsuits and don’t see any return.  New Jersey is a prime example of the nation’s broken system that must be reformed now by eliminating frivolous medical lawsuits, which will serve as a pathway toward bringing affordable healthcare to American individuals and families.�

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