The Failure to Address the Costs of Defensive Medicine in Health Care Legislation

February 2, 2010

New Report Underscores Costs of Defensive Medicine

WASHINGTON. D.C. – House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member Darrell Issa (R-CA) released a report today entitled:  The Failure to Address the Costs of Defensive Medicine in Health Care Legislation that highlights how defensive medicine contributes to the “high cost of health care” and drives up insurance premiums.

“Last week during his State of the Union Address and speaking at the House Republican retreat, President Obama underscored the need for Republicans to be open to all ideas and made an appeal to not give up on health care reform legislation,” Issa said.  “I agree that the election of one Senator should not excuse our efforts to reform our nation’s health care system, however, that effort must include legitimate tort reform. When HHS is telling me that malpractice reform is not a ‘priority’ of this Administration, I have to question the sincerity of the President’s commitment to working with Congressional Republicans on a bipartisan basis.”

From Issa's Report:

"Committee staff inquired of HHS whether they had an updated figure, but staff was told by personnel in the Office of the Assistant Secretary Planning and Evaluation that the report in question involved medical malpractice litigation which “is not a priority with this Administration [the Obama Administration]” so there is no further information on the topic…"

President Obama to Joint Session of Congress on September 9, 2009:

"So I'm proposing that we move forward on a range of ideas about how to put patient safety first and let doctors focus on practicing medicine.  I know that the Bush administration considered authorizing demonstration projects in individual states to test these ideas.  I think it's a good idea, and I'm directing my Secretary of Health and Human Services to move forward on this initiative today."

“This report highlights the significant impact on health care costs that defensive medicine creates and legitimate reform cannot be achieved if policymakers ignore the costs resulting from excessive litigation.  Of course, the only that can happen is if Congress is willing to stand up to the trial lawyers lobby and embrace tough tort reform proposals to try and help revive and build bipartisan support for health care reform,” said Issa.  “It's easy to say the right thing, but by embracing the findings of this report and supporting legitimate tort reform that doesn't penalize states like CA and TX who already have some sort of liability reform will be a good barometer of how sincere the call for bipartisanship truly is.”

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Related Documents

Staff Report