KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

California Republican Lawmakers Continue To Press For Tort Reform

The Contra Costa Times: "The effort to overhaul the nation's health care system has so far skirted the issue of tort reform, intensifying debate over the role malpractice lawsuits play in increasing premiums." Critics say the new health reform law does not do enough to address the high costs of medical lawsuits, but other experts say that malpractice suits do not contribute to increasing health costs. "That hasn't changed the sentiment of local Republican members of Congress, who argue the savings from reducing medical lawsuits would be significant. … 'In fact, the Congressional Budget Office told Congress that the federal government could save up to $54 billion over 10 years by implementing California-style medical malpractice reform. If it had built on this example, the health care law could have had an impact on costs nationwide,'" said Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif.

According to other experts, such as Gerald Kominski, associate director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, a more efficient way to cut costs would be to look toward quality control. "Credible reports estimate that 100,000 Americans die each year from medical errors. The public would not tolerate hundreds of commercial plane crashes a year claiming that number of lives each year, he said" (Steinberg, 4/25).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.