Despite empirical evidence pointing to the contrary, public officials continue to point to “tort reform” as a method of reducing health care costs. The House Judiciary Committee recently held a hearing about the alleged correlation between “frivolous” medical malpractice lawsuits and sky rocketing health care costs. Even President Obama remarked that he would be open to reforming medical malpractice laws in his State of the Union address.
What these public officials fail to consider is that numerous studies have shown that medical malpractice costs are a microscopic portion, 2.4 percent to be exact, of total health care costs in the United States.
Here’s a video of the Executive Director of the Center for Justice and Democracy testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on tort reform…
Another important aspect of the debate that doesn’t get discussed enough is the method in which these public officials want to go about “reforming” our medical malpractice legal system – punishing helpless victims. The most recent “tort reform” proposal would place an arbitrary $250,000 cap on non-economic damages. What are non-economic damages? That is the amount of compensation a victim receives for the significant downgrade in quality life stemming from the injury.
Tort reform advocates rightly point out that it’s virtually impossible to perfectly calculate pain and suffering damages. But that is counterintuitive. If we follow that logic, placing an arbitrary $250,000 cap makes absolutely no sense considering you’re placing a calculated number on a supposedly incalculable issue.
Instead of wasting time on depriving victims of much-needed compensation for injuries, our public officials should focus on Medicare and Medicaid fraud, allow prescription drug re-importation, and develop new ways to combat the “big five” common chronic conditions (i.e. diabetes, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, asthma, and depression) since they are responsible for 75 percent of health care spending. These are serious strategies for reducing health care costs. Tort reform does not qualify.
About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm (VA-NC law offices ) edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service to consumers.