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Top Republicans say Medical Malpractice Reform is Needed, Experts and Facts say Otherwise

By: Allan M. Siegel

It’s a common misperception that medical malpractice lawsuits are frivolous and have an overall negative impact on our healthcare system, including by driving up insurance premiums and forcing healthcare providers to order unnecessary tests. Facts, data, and expert analysis demonstrate otherwise. Unfortunately, this misperception has seeped into the political agenda of top Republicans, including House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Rep. Tom Price. Despite significant evidence to the contrary, Price has long correlated a reformation of patients’ rights with a reduction in healthcare spending. Experts note that any alleged savings that have been stated by Price are grossly exaggerated, and caution Republicans not to restrict consumer’s access to the justice system.

The fact is that today, healthcare providers are paying less for malpractice insurance than they did in 2011, and over the past 13 years, the rate of claims has dropped by half. Contrary to Republican’s rhetoric, there is no medical malpractice crisis. Their current proposed reforms will only help healthcare providers avoid liability for medical errors and do nothing but hurt the average patient or consumer.

Medical errors are the country’s third-leading cause of death, behind heart disease and cancer. Thus, why not focus on reducing medical errors and overall patient harm? Given these facts, Republicans’ political aims in this matter are disingenuous and misplaced, and they urgently need to reevaluate their position. At the very least, they should take a long, hard look at the empirical evidence, consider the detrimental effects that this would have on patients, and consult with industry experts before overhauling an entire national system. The facts show thus far that their proposed reforms will only hurt, not help, the average American.