As the health care debate continues, an editorial in the St. Louis Dispatch emphasized that medical malpractice tort reform would do little to bring down the overall cost of health care in the United States. The editorial anticipates that heading into the bipartisan health care summit on February 25, Republicans will again push for medical malpractice caps to control the soaring costs of health care.
Republicans argue that capping medical malpractice damages will reduce health care costs by lowering medical malpractice insurance premiums and costs associated with defensive medicine. However, medical malpractice reform will do little to impact health care spending in the United States. The editorial cites a study by the Congressional Budget Office that revealed the projected savings from tort reform would only reduce the total amount of health care spending by only 0.5%.
Republicans also argue that there are too many frivolous lawsuits, but the article notes findings from a Harvard study found that over half of the patients who experienced medical malpractice did not take legal action. Additionally, due to the high costs of lawsuits, medical malpractice attorneys are not motivated to represent clients in frivolous lawsuits that have no merit.
Medical malpractice caps will not drive down health care costs. Rather, they will only harm individuals who have been injured or killed as a result of medical errors. It is important to shift the focus to preventing medical malpractice from happening instead of limiting patients’ rights. To access the Dispatch’s editorial on medical malpractice tort reform follow the link.