President Barack Obama embraced a handful of Republican health care ideas Tuesday to lure votes of Democrats wary of a more partisan approach as he prepared to spell out his final package for a sharply divided House and Senate, where its fate is unsure.
In a bit of political sleight of hand, Obama said he might include four GOP-sponsored ideas in his plan, even though virtually no one in Congress or the White House thinks it will procure a single Republican vote.
Obama signaled a willingness to take a small step farther into the contentious issue of limiting lawsuits that allege medical malpractice. Plaintiffs' lawyers, a key fundraising source for Democrats, staunchly oppose such limits. But Republicans and many doctors have demanded them for years.
Obama's letter said he was open to appropriating an extra $50 million for pilot programs that experiment with specialized health courts rather than jury trials. A judge steeped in medical matters would hear evidence and render verdicts for patients alleging injuries from wrongful acts.
A plaintiff lawyers' group, the Center for Justice & Democracy, said it strongly opposes such health courts, calling them "anti-patient."
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