The absence of any substantive medical liability limits in last year's health care legislation will undoubtedly come up in this week's House of Representatives debate on H.R. 2, the bill to repeal the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Still, the real discussion of tort reform will probably not occur until afterward.
After the health care vote, the House will also consider H.R. 9, which requires four committees to report on changes to existing health care law, changes that fall under their respective jurisdictions. The committees are: Education and the Workforce; Energy and Commerce; Judiciary; and Ways and Means.
Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) has scheduled a committee hearing for Thursday, "Medical Liability Reform - Cutting Costs, Spurring Investment, Creating Jobs." In a Jan. 5 news release, "HJC to Play Key Role in Health Care Debate," Smith said:
Democrats' health care plan ignores common sense solutions to skyrocketing health care costs. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, 40% of medical malpractice suits filed in the U.S. are "without merit." The threat of these lawsuits forces doctors to conduct tests and prescribe medicines that are not medically required. The widespread practice of "defensive medicine" drives up the cost of health care.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that lawsuit abuse reform would save taxpayers $54 billion over the next decade. This would help American families struggling with health care costs and protect medical personnel who are overburdened by the cost of malpractice insurance.