The White House today announced a $25 million grant program to fund demonstration projects on alternatives to the current system of medical liability. In a memorandum to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, he wrote:
In 1999, the Congress authorized the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which is located within the Department of Health and Human Services, to support demonstration projects and to evaluate the effectiveness of projects regarding all aspects of health care, including medical liability. I hereby request that you announce, within 30 days of this memorandum, that the Department will make available demonstration grants to States, localities, and health systems for the development, implementation, and evaluation of alternatives to our current medical liability system, consistent with the goals and core commitments outlined above.
The Boston Globe has the background memo laying out the framework for the studies and reporting the AAJ's response.
It's a more formal and timely proposal than we had expected from the White House while serving the same political strategy -- kicking serious efforts toward medical tort reform a year or more down the road.
UPDATE (4:25 p.m.): Secretary Sebelius comments at the daily White House press briefing today. Robert Gibbs jumps in, too, disputing support of trial lawyers for Obama candidacy.