Keep Focus on Health Reform – Tort Reform Is A Red Herring!

December 7, 2009

Medical malpractice reform steers debate off course

Lawmakers in Washington should look to Florida as a example. Since caps on noneconomic damages and attorney fees were implemented in the state five years ago, malpractice claims paid by insurers have declined, and insurers have enjoyed consistent profits. Yet medical costs have continued to rise and are now among the highest in the nation, demonstrating that malpractice insurance premiums and jury awards make up a very small part of the overall cost of medicine.

While doctors have enjoyed lower insurance premiums and insurers have seen strong and steady profits, medical errors continue to claim thousands of lives every year, and serious errors happen more in the U.S. than in other rich countries, as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently found. In Florida and other states with caps, the victims are finding it very difficult to retain qualified attorneys to take on their cases because the economics of the system have become heavily skewed in favor of the healthcare providers and insurers.

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