Many Republications believe a malpractice crisis is threatening health care in the United States. However, experts say this is not the case and that there has been no such “crisis” in more than 10 years. “It’s a wonderful time for doctors looking for coverage and it’s never been better for insurers,” said Michael Matray, editor of Medical Liability Monitor, a trade publication. Doctors are, in fact, paying less for malpractice insurance than they did in 2001 — without any inflation adjustment and the rate of claims has dropped by half since 2003.
Despite these facts, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Tom Price, the incoming Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, want to boldly reform the malpractice system, saying hundreds of billions are wasted on “lawsuit abuse” and defensive medicine.
As top Republicans see it, frivolous lawsuits are driving up malpractice insurance premiums and forcing physicians out of business. They claim doctors and hospitals live in fear of litigation, ordering excessive tests and treatments that make health care unaffordable for Americans. In order to lower insurance premiums and costs, proponents of Tort Reform want to set caps on the amount an injured patient is able to recover if they are successful in a medical malpractice case. This means that no matter how badly a patient is hurt, or even if the patient dies because of medical malpractice, the plaintiff could only recover a limited amount of money, which in many cases does not fully compensate them for their injuries.
More than 30 states across America have some form of cap on damages in malpractice lawsuits to control litigation and awards with helping to contain costs.
As we wrote here last July, “(Here in Indiana) Governor Pence signed a bill approving an increase to the state’s cap on medical malpractice damages. The new law would raise the cap to $1.65 million in 2017 and $1.8 million in 2019. Indiana’s new law continues to cover both economic and non-economic damages.”