White House Offer On Malpractice Finds Takers; Obama Tells Dems To ‘Focus’
Since President Obama proposed using $25 million to test new ways to handle malpractice lawsuits, suitors have been lining up, the The Asssociated Press reports. One leading idea is to appoint expert panels to sort fact from fiction in malpractice claims. The "American Hospital Association has been shopping a new plan to lawmakers," and malpractice reform advocates are expected to propose another strategy for a pilot program at a Health and Human Services hearing next week. Doctors say they perform extra tests on patients because they fear lawsuits.
While President Obama is also looking for ways to reduce extra testing, he opposes the "hard limits on jury awards" favored by doctors. The hunt is on for alternatives. The hospital industry's plan would send patients to a state appointed expert panel for review. "The patient wouldn't have to prove negligence, only that the doctor could have avoided the problem by following established guidelines for clinical practice. If the experts find that a patient was harmed and the injury could have been avoided, the panel would offer compensation. Payments would not be open-ended, but based on a publicly available compensation schedule" (Alonso-Zaldivar, 10/20).
Meanwhile, Obama appeared in New York Tuesday at a Democratic party fundraiser, the Associated Press/Boston Globe reports. He said disagreements between lawmakers were inevitable, but could be unnecessarily distracting. "Let's make sure that we keep our eye on the prize," he said (10/20).