Tort Reform And Changes To Doctor Payment Could Cut Health Costs

side note: Yet another push for physician medical malpractice reform as the answer to lowering healthcare costs. This is a part of the problem, but not the entire one. Until all parties come together and are willing to lose a small piece of the pie, will we ever make meaningful changes.

Kaiser News

Limiting medical malpractice lawsuits and changing the doctor payment system are being debated as possible ways to make health care more cost-effective.

One of the “gang of six” Senate Finance Committee negotiators, Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., recently listed changing tort law as a “common sense reform” to reduce health care costs. He said America needs “to reform our flawed medical liability system and eliminate junk lawsuits against doctors and hospitals,” NPR reports. “Democrats, who get significant backing from trial lawyers, have generally resisted efforts to curb lawsuits.” And “former Democratic Senator Bill Bradley suggests a grand bipartisan trade-off: Give the GOP the relief from lawsuits they want in exchange for the universal health insurance that Democrats want.” The American Medical Association’s immediate past president, Dr. Nancy Nielsen, says the idea “would be a wonderful thing if it were that simple.”

“In general, doctors really like caps on malpractice awards,” but the Congressional Budget Office found that “fear of liability is only one reason doctors sometimes perform unnecessary procedures. Their own income is also a factor.” So while tort reform alone “won’t change a system that gives doctors a financial incentive to do more and more,” it could “still be useful, if it helps win doctors’ trust” (Horsley, 9/2).

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