Malpractice proposal misses mark in health debate; Enthusiasm elusive as Obama offers $25 million in grants

MarketWatch Capitol Report
Tuesday, September 22, 2009

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- When President Barack Obama devoted a few words to medical malpractice reform in his recent address to a joint session of Congress, many in the chamber applauded wildly. But few were clapping last week after the White House rolled out its actual malpractice ideas, a sign that Obama will either have to offer more proposals on the subject or give up on its ability to influence the health-care debate.

So Obama and Democrats haven't won over Republicans and the business community when it comes to malpractice. Has the president done better with others? So far, not with lawyers or consumer advocacy groups -- two loud voices in the health-care debate.
The American Association for Justice, which represents trial lawyers, said the White House's goals moved the debate in the right direction but that patients still must have their day in court if they've been wronged by a doctor or hospital.
"Any efforts to limit patients' rights are not acceptable," said Anthony Tarricone, the group's president, in a statement.
Reaction from the Center for Justice and Democracy, a national consumer organization, was just as strong -- even before Sebelius spoke Thursday.
"Any scheme that places undue burdens on injured patients or requires that cases be heard in informal settings tilt the legal playing field heavily in favor of insurance companies that represent health-care providers, and are fundamentally unfair," said Joanne Doroshow, the group's executive director, after Obama's joint address.

Contact CJ&D for a copy of the entire story.

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