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Physicians Skeptical About Medical Liability Reform Action

As the presidential candidates make their pitches for how best to reform the nation’s health care system, many physicians are not holding their breath that medical liability reform will be at the center of the national debate this fall. All of the GOP presidential hopefuls support medical liability reform in some forum, with most endorsing caps on noneconomic damages, and President Obama has paid more attention to the issue than most Democratic presidents. Still, national physicians leaders expressed disappointment in both parties for failing to enact any type of meaningful federal liability reform law, despite years of opportunities. “Neither side has been really able to deliver on its promises, however big or small”. One of the major hurdles to passing medical liability reform at the federal level is the need to garner 60 votes in the Senate, where a super majority is needed to prevent a filibuster. Even if a Republican president who supported medical liability damage caps were elected in 2012, it’s unlikely that he could get the critical 60 votes in the Senate. “It’s an uphill climb”. To date, a federal bill, introduced in January 2011, to put a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages and would require that medical liability lawsuits be filed within 3 years of injury; languishes in the House. State-level activity on medical liability reform is likely to continue over the next few years. One driving force will be the greater involvement of states in the health care arena as they launch the health insurance exchanges. The hope is that after the November election, lawmakers will continue to think about how to reform the health care system and that medical liability reform can be a piece of that effort. “Our desire is to bring some rationality to the system”.

Summarized from Ob.Gyn.News- March 2012 (www.obgynnews.com)

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