For Immediate Release
In Attempt to Limit Patients’ Rights, Republicans Trot Out Tired - and False - Arguments About Medical Liability
Statement of Christine Hines, Consumer and Civil Justice Counsel, Public Citizen
WASHINGTON - It's telling that before the membership of the House Judiciary Committee for the 112th Congress was even finalized, incoming chair Lamar Smith (R-Texas) scheduled a hearing on medical liability. The new House leadership apparently can't wait to get started in pushing forward draconian measures to limit patients' rights. It is heeding its party's talking points without noticing the facts.
Today's hearing, creatively called "Medical Liability Reform - Cutting Costs, Spurring Investment, Creating Jobs," will undoubtedly dig up the same old arguments trotted out in years past to support policies that would absolve negligent medical providers of responsibility for actions that injure or kill their patients.
Despite the fact that malpractice litigation and payments are at historic lows, according to the federal government's National Practitioner Data Bank, proponents of limiting patients' rights continue to incorrectly blame ideas like "runaway jury awards" and "defensive medicine" for the nation's escalating health care costs.
SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT
Get our best delivered to your inbox.
Of all people, Chairman Smith should know that liability limits do not curb health care costs. For example, yesterday in a FoxNews.com editorial, Chairman Smith claimed that malpractice liability limits in Texas have been a success and that they reduced health care premiums in his home state. However, according to official U.S. Census Bureau data, the state's uninsured rate and health insurance costs have more than doubled since the state's liability reforms took effect in 2003. Further, closing the courthouse doors to patients in Texas has not alleviated expensive medical tests. The cost of diagnostic testing in Texas (measured by per patient Medicare reimbursements) has grown 50 percent faster than the national average. Texas' liability system is clearly not the solution for the country, much less Texas.
Bailing out negligent doctors and limiting individual patients' rights will neither save us money nor protect patients from harm.
This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.
Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Won't Exist.
Please select a donation method:
Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.