Broad Health Coalition Disappointed That Health Care Summit Yields Little Progress on Medical Liability Reform

Monday, March 1, 2010 General News
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WASHINGTON, March 1 As Members of Congress came together with President Obama for a Health Care Summit last week, little was agreed upon to advance common sense medical liability reforms that would reduce health care costs and preserve patient access to quality care.

"While both Democrats and Republicans have agreed that our medical liability system is broken and not in the best interests of patients, it is unfortunate that the summit was unable to produce concrete solutions," HCLA Chair Mike Stinson said. "Several reports have noted the significant savings to the federal government if comprehensive reforms were enacted by Congress, including a non-partisan report by the Congressional Budget Office that puts the potential cost savings at $54 billion."

The impact of enacting medical liability reform on reducing health care costs was discussed several times in each of the two three-hour sessions of the summit. The President noted that his Administration was already addressing the matter by way of the demonstration projects he authorized last year, although he did express some interest in health courts demonstration legislation introduced by Sen. Tom Coburn, MD (R-OK).

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) stated that demonstration projects were not necessary because California and Texas had already demonstrated the most effective reform - reasonable limits on noneconomic damages.

While the HCLA continues to favor comprehensive medical liability reforms, the broad health coalition also supports supplemental federal reforms (including certificates of merit and expert witness standards), in addition to incentive payments to encourage states to enact new reform concepts, such as health courts and early offers programs.

"The HCLA believes that incentive payments to states are a legitimate starting point for modest reforms, but that Congress has an obligation to enact specific federal reforms to fix our broken medical liability system and make it finally work for both health care providers and patients," Stinson continued.

"The overhaul of our health care system will not be complete without the inclusion of effective medical liability reforms, in order to preserve access to care and lower costs for all patients," Stinson said. "The members of the HCLA are united in continuing the fight to include comprehensive medical liability reforms in any health care legislation considered by Congress."

For more details, visit The Health Coalition on Liability and Access is a national advocacy coalition representing doctors, hospitals, health care liability insurers, employers, health care consumers, and others. HCLA believes federal legislation is needed to bring fairness, timeliness and cost-efficiency to America's medical liability system.

SOURCE Health Coalition on Liability and Access

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