President Obama tried Wednesday to salvage his top domestic priority by urging Congress to pass a health overhaul that will benefit the tens of millions who already have coverage, as well as the uninsured.
Obama used a 47-minute address to a joint session of Congress to try to clear up public confusion about the health care changes he’s proposing and rally congressional Democrats divided over the extent to which government should be involved in the medical system.
He also offered a potential carrot to Republicans, saying he would direct Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to study the merits of capping medical malpractice payouts — which the GOP has long contended drive up health care costs. “I don’t believe malpractice reform is a silver bullet, but I have talked to enough doctors to know that defensive medicine may be contributing to unnecessary costs,” Obama said.
Some consumer and patient advocacy groups expressed reservations about injecting tort reform into the already heated health care debate.
“We are concerned that the rights of medical malpractice victims have become a political bargaining chip in the president’s efforts to sell his health care plan, and that their rights may be unfairly limited as a result,” the Center for Justice & Democracy, a consumer group, said in a statement.
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