As President Barack Obama and Congress try to finalize health care reform, it can be hard to know where the rhetoric stops and where the truth begins. At his recent “bipartisan” health care summit, the president offered up malpractice liability limits as a negotiating point to pass health care reform. The president likely will offer "alternatives" to our right to hold negligent providers accountable when they cause severe, permanent injuries or death.
It is clear that liability reform is not a factor in reducing health care costs. In fact, these restrictions on individuals’ ability to go to court will shift to the taxpayers the costs of malpractice from the negligent medical providers who caused the harm.
Patients’ legal rights are not a bargaining chip. Liability “alternatives” will shield negligent doctors and hospitals from responsibility for their injurious acts and may increase instances of medical errors due to the lack of accountability.
The woefully inadequate health care bill already endorses money for experiments with substitutes for the civil justice system. Instead of barring patients and their families from access to justice, Congress should include real medical malpractice reform by reducing negligence, injuries and death.
In the interest of promoting public health and safety, Public Citizen released a report last year showing that basic patient safety reforms could save 85,000 lives and $35 billion every year. Read our Back to Basics health care reform report to learn more.
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