The Congressional Budget Office has spoken: Tort Reforms would lower costs for heath care and would not create an increased risk to patient health. In fact, they’d lower costs and increase revenues. How much? About $54 billion over the next 10 years!
Where would the $54 billion come from? Not all of it would come out of the pockets of the unscrupulous Medical Malpractice plaintiffs. A good share of that money would be from reducing defensive medicine and lowering Medical Malpractice Insurance premiums. The simple fact is that frivolous lawsuits, (or more accurately, the costs of defending against them,) are sapping this country’s thin resources. So why aren’t our legislators fighting back?
Here’s an excerpt from the letter, which can be read in its entirety at http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/108xx/doc10872/12-29-Tort_Reform-Braley.pdf:
“Studies by Kessler and McClellan, and by Sloan and Shadle found that state tort reforms had no significant effects on health. Similarly, a study by Baicker, Fisher, and Chandra found that there was no significant association between mortality and malpractice costs.”
That information was provided to both the House and the Senate in a letter dated December 29, 2009. The letter, addressed to Bruce Braley and CC’d to Orin Hatch, John Conyers, Lamar Smith, Patrick Leahy, and Jeff Sessions, makes reference to studies that were provided to Senator Hatch (and the rest of Congress) in 2008 as well. The conclusions have changed some, but the statistics were there all along.
So… tort reforms would save over five billion dollars a year, and are not likely to result in a lower quality of patient care. Where is the question? Why is this not important to those representatives forging our country’s health care reforms? Are we so fat that we can ignore 54 billion dollars in savings?
The truth is, it’s far more than $54 billion. The figure doesn’t include the increased quality of care. It doesn’t address that more patients will be engaging in preventative practices, taking better care of themselves. It doesn’t acknowledge the reduced time spent on defensive medicine, nor the improved workplace and attitudes of healthcare workers. Doctors and their staff will be less stressed. The potential is there for health care reform to change the way we practice medicine and receive treatment. We can make huge improvements in the health of our nation, if we do this right. But Congress is protecting its fellow lawyers, voting down Tort Reforms.
We can’t state this strongly enough: PLEASE contact your representatives. Let them know that you insist that Tort Reforms be included in the health care reform legislations. Yes, it would be best to do so now — the sooner the better. Even Tort Reform doesn’t make it into the current healthcare reform bill does not mean it can’t be added later. Hold your representatives accountable. Require that they enact Tort Reforms, for all our sakes.