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Congress' Tort Reform Agenda May Infringe on the Rights of Injured Patients


As Congress steps into 2017, lawmakers are considering to take an aggressive course of action regarding the nation’s current health care system. Top Republicans in Congress argue that there is a medical malpractice issue threatening the U.S. health care system as a whole – due to seemingly impractical lawsuits, insurance premiums are sky rocketing, which can often result in putting physicians out of work and, ultimately, business. Under this assumption, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Rep. Tom Price are making a promise to implement tort reform changes as a crucial component to the overhaul of the Affordable Care Act. Experts and researches argue, however, that the reality of our nation’s health care system does not match Republican’s line of thinking.

New Proposals Elevate Burden of Proof Injured Patients Must Face

According to Kaiser Health News, doctors and physicians are actually paying less for medical malpractice insurance than they were 15 years ago and the rate of filed claims has significantly dropped by half since 2003. Rand Corp. researcher Nicholas Pace says “it’s a time of relative calm, and this hasn’t been a front-burner issue or crisis. But now Republicans see an opportunity to make changes they have wanted for a long time as they replace Obamacare.”

These new proposals would elevate the burden of proof on injured patients and make it much easier for doctors to successfully defend themselves in medical malpractice cases – patients may find themselves fighting an even steeper uphill battle if the legislation goes into effect. While Congress lawmakers are eager to put these plans to action, academic researches contest that these new reforms fail to address an even bigger goal to reduce overall patient harm. Every year, nearly 250,000 patients are killed from medical malpractice errors, making it the nation’s third-leading cause of death, behind heart disease and cancer.

“You need solid empirical evidence”

Furthermore, the proposed reforms also place caps on damages – a rule that more than 30 states have already implemented. In California, for example, noneconomic damages for medical malpractice lawsuits cap at $250,000. If Congress wishes to keep premium costs at a minimum, researchers state that placing caps is not the way to do it. Aside from also considering economic cycles and investment returns, some courts have been known to quickly strike down such laws, ruling that they are ineffective and unconstitutional.

In light of talks regarding reform and new health care proposals, experts remain hesitant and suggest that lawmakers practice extreme caution in approaching tort reform issues. “You need solid empirical evidence before you move forward on a national malpractice reform, not anecdotes or horror stories,” Pace said. “That is not how you decide to overhaul the entire system.”

If you or a loved one has been injured at the hands of a medical professional’s negligence, you can trust that Rash Mueller. is here to aggressively protect your rights. Our Weston medical malpractice attorney is unafraid to stand up to large entities and demand justice.

We believe in justice. Call (954) 914-7116 to schedule your free consultation today.

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