California Representative Darrell Issa writes an editorial at Politico emphasizing the importance of including tort reform in any health care legislation, especially one that can even be remotely considered bipartisan. Many of my liberal friend like to pretend that tort reform won’t change health care costs, and some pretend that Democrats are actively supporting tort reform already. Neither of these are true, and tort reform is probably the only real issue that can lead to any amount of Republican support on Obamacare.
From the article:
Defensive medicine — when doctors order unnecessary and usually expensive tests and procedures in order to avoid lawsuits — is a major contributor to skyrocketing health care costs. As much as $210 billion is spent on defensive medicine annually — equal to $700 for every U.S. man, woman and child. This helps drive up insurance premiums that are already too high for many Americans. And the excessive malpractice litigation inevitably leads to physician shortages — especially among obstetricians, neurosurgeons and emergency room physicians.
Fewer doctors mean reduced access to medical care for everybody. New Jersey, for example, will be short 2,800 family doctors and specialists by the year 2020, according to a recent report from the New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals. The reason for the shortage, council President Richard Goldstein says, is a “morale problem” because of the state’s “hostile” environment for doctors and the heightened threat of malpractice lawsuits.
As long as out-of-control malpractice premiums are built into medical costs, many will never be able to afford coverage. Shamefully, it is estimated that the cost of defensive medicine and the associated liability-based medical care costs account for at least 3.4 million uninsured Americans.