Daily Archives: September 10, 2010

Obamacare Turns The Other Cheek On $56 Billion Malpractice Cost

Trial lawyers: Medical liability costs ONLY $56 billion per year!.  Washington Examiner.

Only $56 billion per year. Well, then it’s not even worth doing medical malpractice reform. $56 billion per year is barely enough for a good lobster dinner.

The very idea that President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrat minions did not attempt to rein in malpractice liability in health care reform, clearly shows they are as much a part of the problem as the trial lawyers in this country for promoting the cost as insignificant. 

Perhaps downplaying the cost, Bloomberg entitled their take on it as Medical Liability Costs Make Up 2.4% of U.S. Health Spending.  Bloomberg.  It is harder to fathom the cost in those terms. 

Now typical of ivory tower academicians who have no clue about the real world. 

“The $56 billion for medical malpractice isn’t chump change for a country already feeling financially strapped,” said Amitabh Chandra, a co-author, in a telephone interview yesterday. “But we should not think that by reforming it, we will find the keys to reducing the cost growth in health care.”

It hardly seems unlikely that by clamping down on runaway costs that stem from defensive medicine, i.e., tests and studies ordered to limit a doctor’s risk of a malpractice lawsuit, that costs will not go down. 

Simply stated, remove the incentive for a lawsuit, then the practice, and hence the cost, of defensive medicine will drop.  And so too will the costs borne by the public and taxpayers in the cost of their insurance coverage, private, Medicare, or Medicaid.  The critical issue is how long it will take before effects will manifest. 

Malpractice reform no ‘silver bullet’ for skyrocketing healthcare spending.  The Hill.  Texas is served up as an example of tort reform passed in 2003, whose health care costs remain high.  However, there are indirect benefits which have served the state well.

“In Texas, medical liability reform has attracted thousands of new doctors to the state — over 15,000 since reform passed in 2003. Before reform, doctors were leaving the state,” Burgess said. “Charity care rendered by Texas hospitals has increased by 24 percent, resulting in $594 million in free care to Texas’ patients.” 

Medical liability reform does have benefits, albeit not necessarily as quickly as many would like.  The reality is that it does significantly contribute to the cost of health care, and if that is to be addressed, then it would appear that both removing incentive for lawsuits in conjunction to changing practice patterns of defensive medicine, may go hand -in-hand to improving the ultimate price consumers and taxpayers foot overall.