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Tort Reform Does Not Equal Health Care Reform

Many of those opposing President Obama’s health care plan are maintaining that the solution to the health care lies in the inaction of tort reform. Recently, at a health care summit, Representative John Boehner, proclaimed that the costs of malpractice insurance have become the country’s biggest cost driver. Presidents of the American Medical Association have written into newspapers claiming that medical malpractice reform was the “surest and quickest way to slow down the rising cost of health care.”

Yet all of these accusations are false. According to StatesmanJournal.com, the Congressional Budge Office has estimated that malpractice costs account for less than 2 percent of health care spending. They have determined that tort reform would only lower health care costs by 0.5 percent. The Republican leadership is exaggerating the significance that medical malpractice costs have on health care. Also, the frequency of medical malpractice lawsuits has diminished recently. In the mid-1990s there were 15 medical malpractice lawsuits filed to every 100 physicians. In 2008 that number dropped to 8 percent. In the 30 states that have capped medical malpractice damages, there is no empirical evidence that health care costs have decreased. It is obvious that Republicans are overstating their facts.

Most importantly, Republicans are ignoring the many victims of medical negligence who will be unable to be justly compromised if tort reform is imposed. Since tort reform does not equal health care reform, it would be wrong to limit the rights of patients for very little reward. To read more statistics about tort reform, please click the link.