Friday, October 2, 2009
Alaska newspaper attacks tort reform
The Anchorage Daily News has published an article criticizing Alaska's severe medical malpratice tort reform law in which it states, among many other things, the following: -- Even though Alaska has had tort reform measures in place for years, including a cap on non-economic damages adopted in 2005, tort reform has not helped drop health care costs for consumers. --Health care costs in Anchorage are on a steady upward trajectory -- they quadrupled between 1982 and 2009. --Health care costs have also continued rising in other states with tort reform including Missouri and Texas. --The Congressional Budget Office says there's no conclusive evidence that doctors are practicing so-called defensive medicine to an extent that would affect health care costs. --National tort reform will not yield the kind of cost savings that America needs in the health reform package. --In a one year study, the Congressional Budget Office noted that malpractice costs amount to less than 2 percent of overall health spending in one year. --Even a 25 percent to 30 percent reduction in medical malpractice premiums would not significantly affect total health care costs. --The threat of medical malpractice lawsuits cuts down on health spending because it puts pressure on medical professionals to avoid common medical errors. The article then concludes that "[w]hat it all adds up to: Even if tort reform could cut overall health care costs -- which there's no proof it will -- we shouldn't count on tort reform for big savings. BOTTOM LINE: Alaska's experience and that of other states suggest tort reform isn't going to do much to cure costly flaws in the American medical system." The full article is available here. A comment on the article is available here.