President Obama’s One Sentence on Med Mal Reform Causes a Stir

It was only one line in a presidential State of the Union address. However, the one line has caused quite a media buzz ever since. The one line, in case you missed it-“”I’m willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, including one Republicans suggested last year—medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits.” The line drew cheers from some Republicans and the US Chamber of Commerce. Of course, they blame the healthcare crisis on the lack of tort reform and the calamitous “frivolous lawsuits”.
In truth, it may be a good line to score political points with the opposition party, but the assertion about frivolous lawsuits is simply not true. Studies, including one from Harvard’s School of Public Health, have shown that frivolous lawsuits are few in number. The Congressional Budget Office has also submitted data that tort reform would do little to bring down the costs of healthcare.
If we’re serious about real healthcare reform, including reducing the costs of healthcare, we’ll focus our efforts on improving patient safety and reducing medical errors. This won’t win political points but it might just improve our healthcare system.