Georgetown University hosted a panel titled, “Medical Malpractice & Health Care Costs: Can Tort Reform Bend the Curve?” yesterday at its law center. The panel was an analytical response to recent commentary that medical malpractice reform is a key part of reducing health care costs. Read an analysis of the panel from McClathy here.
There were three law professors and a national policy reporter on the panel. Overall, the panel members said that medical malpractice reform negligibly reduces health care costs. Further, the panelists suggested that the political discussion has ignored or failed to mention the statistical and research-based evidence relating to how defensive medicine and tort reform affects health care costs.
M. Gregg Bloche, a Georgetown University law professor, emphasized that malpractice composes a small percentage of health care costs and does not contribute to cost increases. He also said that reducing malpractice payouts would not create savings. Kethryn Zeiler, another law professor from Georgetown University, agreed with Bloche, stating:
"The bottom line is that (malpractice) tort reforms don’t work as well as proponents say they do," said Kathryn Zeiler, a professor of law and economics at Georgetown and a widely published author on the subject of malpractice revisions.
Providing a slightly different perspective, panelist David Hyman, a law professor at the University of Illinois and a Cato Institute scholar, said that the term “defensive medicine” is used too broadly and that politicians overlook the evidence that malpractice prevention does not create savings.
AAJ has created a series of reports examining the role of medical negligence in the health care debate. Just yesterday, AAJ released The Insurance Hoax: How Doctors and Patients Pay for the Huge Profits of Medical Malpractice Insurers. Visit www.justice.org/medicalnegligence to learn more (the reports can be found on the right-hand side of the page).