So we all know that President Obama is talking about some type of Health Care reform in America. I can tell you from years of representing those injured in car accidents, here in Raleigh and across the state of North Carolina, that we need some type of health care reform. The folks that need coverage the most often can not get it. And small businesses (even law firms) see their premiums rise EVERY YEAR. My health insurance premiums for my firm have gone up nearly 10% every year for the past 8 years.
So as part of the political debate, Obama is talking about changing health insurance, but he is also talking about medical malpractice reform. Some of my fellow trial lawyers are getting stirred up because we don't think that extending coverage of health care ought to also limit an injured person's access to justice.
Here are some links which discuss Obama's comments in the last few days:
Obama Talks Up Liability Reform
In Pitch to AMA, Obama Paints Mixed Picture
Cost Concerns as Obama Pushes Health Issue
New York Times
Obama Calls Cost of Healthcare a Threat to Economy
Chicago Tribune/LA Times
I tend to agree with the gist of the Politico article: Obama has to keep all options on the table and speak in terms that ever player in the debate feels are near and dear to their interests.
I think the debate will be rational, and because of that I think that the data which show that very little of the overall cost of health care has anything to do with malpractice lawsuits will not be ignored. There are things that can be done to decrease the cost of lawsuits. Call it reform or not, that's up to you.
I commonly request that each side to a malpractice suit be limited in the number of expert witnesses who can be used on a certain subject. Almost universally the lawyers for the Doctors will not voluntarily limit the number of expert witnesses. This increases the costs to defend these suits. There is one liability reform I'm fine with implementing.