Monday, September 14, 2009

More reaction to Pres. Obama's plans re health care

As I posted here a few days ago, President Obama's suggestion that medical malpractice "tort reform" measures should be part of his health care reform package has received very mixed reviews. Here are two articles, one critical, on mostly just reciting some facts, on the subject. The first article is a comment posted in ThePopTort blog. Although there are no details available about what Pres. Obama's plan might look like, this post discusses (and criticizes) some of the elements that have been hinted at so far. It also provides a good number of links to support its position. One particularly problematic possible approach to reform that has been mentioned is the requirement of “certificates of merit.” Some states already have “Certificate of Merit” laws, are very controversial. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the certificates can cost $5,000 or more each to produce because of the expense of hiring experts which can prevent some injured people from filing suit. The requirement is also unfair because it requires experts to weigh in on a case, before plaintiffs have even had a chance to gather all the evidence. Like most tort reform efforts, the real goal of this requirement is to make it more difficult for people to get access to the court system. The PopTort article goes on to discuss "medical review panels" (arguing they are unfair for patients, since the panel members would come from the health care industry, with clear conflicts of interest), “early disclosure provisions” (which may be unfair if they allow injured patients to be pressured into accepting a low-ball insurance industry offer before they have any idea what's going on or can consult with an attorney or, worse, if they penalize the patient who refuses an initial offer by imposing a higher burden of proof). In the end, the article concludes that another basic problem is that "these kinds of measures don’t do a thing to improve patient safety." The PopTort article is available here. The Wall Street Journal article is available here.

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