House Committee Takes Up Medical Liability Reform

MedPage Today
Friday, January 21, 2011

The House Judiciary Committee devoted its first hearing in the 112th Congress to an issue physicians and many Republicans have long championed: medical liability reform.

The committee, newly controlled by Republicans, held an oversight hearing Thursday called "Medical Liability Reform -- Cutting Costs, Spurring Investment, Creating Jobs," and heard testimony from two doctors on how the system needs to be changed, and from one lawyer who said the system works as is.

The hearing came a day after the House of Representatives voted 245-189 to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The repeal vote is seen as largely symbolic, since leaders of the Democratic-controlled Senate have vowed to block repeal. However, Republicans are now expected to begin trying to chip away at the ACA by passing bills to repeal certain provisions.

The early hearing on medical liability may be a signal the GOP would like to mix stronger medical liability reforms into its repeal-and-replace efforts, although no official legislation has been introduced this session and Thursday's hearing didn't relate to any specific bill. But panel chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) did say "further federal legislation is needed."

The committee also heard from a lawyer, Joanne Doroshow of the Center for Justice & Democracy, who said insurance companies are the reason malpractice insurance is so high, not huge awards to patients who are injured by a medical mistake.

"I think the system as it is right now is really efficient," she said.

For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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