Last updated on: 10/24/2012 9:20:13 AM PST
Did Obamacare Change Medical Malpractice (Tort Reform) Law? - NO
General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Section 6801, "Sense of the Senate Regarding Medical Malpractice," page 686, signed into law on Mar. 23, 2010, available at the Library of Congress website, states:
"It is the sense of the Senate that—
(1) health care reform presents an opportunity to address issues related to medical malpractice and medical liability insurance;
(2) States should be encouraged to develop and test alternatives to the existing civil litigation system as a way of improving patient safety, reducing medical errors, encouraging the efficient resolution of disputes, increasing the availability of prompt and fair resolution of disputes, and improving access to liability insurance, while preserving an individual's right to seek redress in court; and
(3) Congress should consider establishing a State demonstration program to evaluate alternatives to the existing civil litigation system with respect to the resolution of medical malpractice claims."
Mar. 23, 2010 - Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HR 3590) (2MB)
[Editor's Note: Based upon a neutral reading of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and bi-partisan third party analysis, this question seems to have a clear and obvious Con (no) answer, and ProCon.org has therefore presented the responses in a single column with no opposing perspective.]
Michael Lavyne, MD, Clinical Professor of Neurological Surgery at Weill Medical College, Cornell University, stated in his Nov. 19, 2012 article, "Obamacare Will Fail Without Tort Reform: Malpractice Insurance Costs Are Crippling Medicine," available at the New York Daily News website:
"I am what you call a successful neurosurgeon, and I have nothing against 'socialized medicine' as such. Everybody deserves good health care. But I am nonetheless worried about President Obama's health care reform, because without tort reform as part of the package, it can't address the labor shortage we face in my specialty.
Tort reform is crucial because it would curtail the threat of frivolous malpractice lawsuits, reward all patients who have been injured by medical mishaps, not just the wealthy with access to high-powered lawyers - and reduce the anxieties faced by young doctors going into medicine in the first place, especially those entering high-stakes fields like my own...
[M]alpractice insurance... creates a very high cost of entry into this field. Unfortunately, the health care reforms of the Obama administration have done little to curb costs. These costs are imposed by hospital inefficiencies as unpoliced by government-run insurance plans and by the price of malpractice insurance undisciplined by tort reform.
I believe that tort reform is the key to reducing both kinds of cost, because the malignant threat of malpractice haunts the hospitals as well as the physicians."
Nov. 19, 2012
Anthony Tarricone, JD, President of the American Association for Justice (AAJ), stated the following in a Mar. 26, 2010 letter to the members of the AAJ, "AAJ's Healthcare Campaign in Review," available at the AAJ website:
"For over a year, AAJ has been intimately involved in the health care legislation to ensure the rights of injured patients were protected. It was a long and difficult journey, with twists and turns no one expected. Despite your personal ideology or political belief, this legislation is historic in its scope and the impact it will have on all Americans.
I am very pleased to report that the health care bill is clear of any provisions that would limit an injured patient's rights concerning medical negligence claims. While there is a provision for demonstration projects, it provides an absolute opt-out clause for plaintiffs at any time. While some states may embark on demonstration programs we find objectionable, the opt-out provision for plaintiffs minimizes this concern...
AAJ was fighting tort reform in the halls of Congress...
That health care has passed unfortunately does not mean our fight is over. Undoubtedly, lawmakers will need to revisit health care in the months and years to come, and that may lead to future battles on medical malpractice. We will remain vigilant and ensure the voices of patients are heard."