President Obama promised in his September 9 address to a joint session of Congress that he would include “demonstration projects” on malpractice liability in his health reform bill. The projects were supposed to encourage states reform their medical malpractice laws in order to curb health care costs.
Unfortunately, two measures that have been proven to work are specifically excluded from the program contained in House Democrats' new health care bill, unveiled yesterday.
On pages 1431-1433, the House bill provides financial incentives for states to implement malpractice reform laws, with the amounts for each state left up to Congress and the Secretary of Health and Human Services. But the law specifically bars them from receiving the incentives unless the state's law “does not limit attorneys’ fees or impose caps on damages.”
It is precisely such measures as limiting attorneys fees and imposing damages caps that have been so effective in recent years in stemming an exodus of doctors from states like Texas and Mississippi, by creating a much more affordable market for malpractice insurance.