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Medical Malpractice Reform Hurts Victims

A bill unveiled during Capitol Hill’s “Health Week” would limit the ability of patients to hold wrongdoers accountable of medical negligence, according to the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.

Senator Bill Frist, R-TN, was among those who appeared at a rally staged last week touting legislation that would impose a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases.

“The statistics show skyrocketing costs of medical malpractice premiums is driving us to defensive medicine, and that’s to a tune of about $100-$125 billion a year,” said Frist.

Proponents of the bill argued that malpractice reform is crucial to keeping the cost of healthcare affordable.

The ATLA, however, contends that advocates of the bill are intentionally misleading the public. For instance, according to a report they released Friday, the Congressional Budget Office shows that malpractice costs amount to less than two percent of healthcare spending.

Furthermore, the American Insurance Association has suggested that even with malpractice reform, prices will continue to rise. “We have not promised price reductions with tort reform,” said Dennis Kelly of the AIA.

According to Ken Suggs, President of the ATLA, the bill is unjust. “The one-size-fits-all approach that caps damages for people who are terribly harmed does them an injustice,” he argued.

The ATLA asserts that medical malpractice lawsuits do not increase medical costs through “defensive medicine,” as Frist suggests, but rather provide patients who have suffered harm as a result of medical negligence the opportunity to seek justice and compensation.

Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., is expected to introduce another bill this week that would limit general damages – those awarded for intangible injury such as pain and suffering – to $750,000.


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