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Birmingham News points out "malpractice reform" won't reduce health care costs.

The Birmingham News joined the chorus of objective sources emphasizing the simple fact that taking away patients' malpractice rights is not an answer to reducing health care costs.  The News has no "dog in this fight," and after weighing the competing claims and studies, its editors pointed out that the maximum savings likely to be achieved by wholesale national "reforms" of state malpractice laws would constitute a drop in the bucket compared to our burgeoning health care expenditures.

One UAB professor explained that in his research, "we found that the malpractice premiums doctors pay would decrease, but there would be really no impact on employer sponsored health insurance." [Actually,  a study conducted after Michigan made dramatic "reforms" in the past two decades suggests that even a dramatic reduction in the number of malpractice claims--on the order of 70%--doesn't result in reduced premiums.]

The Birmingham paper quoted the CBO report which found that imposing damage caps would save the government perhaps one-third or one-half of one percent of its health care costs.  A 2010 study suggested that even this estimate is based upon questionable assumptions, given that post-reform in states that have imposed significant reforms, doctors do not actually change their "defensive behavior" in ordering tests and services.  In a fee-for-service health care regime, health care providers are substantially and adequately motivated to order tests and provide services, without considering avoiding malpractice claims.  As a recent New Yorker article documented in Texas, while physicians and insurers often raise "defensive medicine" as a motivation for unnecessary tests and procedures, fee-for-service considerations have a far greater impact.

While a spokesman for ProAssurance, one of the country's larger malpractice insurers,  told the paper that we need to extract every drop of savings from health care expenses; and that caps would "improve the doctor-patient relationship,"  a lawyer spokesman pointed out that awarding an arbitrarily-limited $250,000.00 to a paralyzed child, for example, is simply irrational and unfair, given the child's life-time suffering.  Others have noted that small, arbitrary caps of this nature actually have NO impact on the frequently-cited [but never documented] "frivolous" lawsuits; rather, these caps by definition punish the most severely injured victims with the most meritorious of claims.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
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