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Tort Reform Cures Few of Our Nation’s Health Care Ailments

The Republicans have come up with many ways to damage health care debate. They include letting families and business buy health insurance across state lines which would bring extra problems to the health care industry. However the GOP’s worst idea, and yet the one that might actually be implemented, is limiting a victim’s ability to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. This idea, known as “tort reform,” has gained momentum with both President Obama and other Democrats.

The American Prospect reported that Republicans argue that by capping medical malpractice damages, doctors will practice less defensive medicine thus driving down health insurance costs. Yet if you examine states that do cap non-economic damages, you will see that there has not been a decrease in health care spending. In fact, per-patient health-care spending in the state of Texas has actually increased at a rate that is twice the national average. This happened after Texas decided to cap non-economic damages at $250,000.

Another argument posed by Republicans is that tort reform will decrease the amount of frivolous lawsuits. Yet the key question is whether there are that many frivolous lawsuits to begin with. Last year the CBO determined that 181,000 severe injuries or deaths were caused by medical error. Yet only 17 percent of those victims actually filed a medical malpractice lawsuit. That means that only one out of every six patients who are victims of medical malpractice actually files a lawsuit. Maybe health care reform should focus more on diminishing the number of victims injured by medical malpractice instead of looking to diminish the number of lawsuits. To learn more about tort reform, please click the link.