It is incredible to me that, amid public concern over the leading healthcare proposals, congressional leadership continues to stonewall any discussion of legal overhaul. They have effectively left the field open to Republicans, who now have seized the center with proposals for special health courts and other ideas that enjoy broad support from almost all healthcare constituents, including consumer groups and patient safety advocates. See here, here and here. I know the trial lawyers give Democrats a lot of money, but can this possibly be smart politics?
The only substantive retort to solving the problems of tort, at least that I've heard, is that the CBO found last year that it couldn't find consistent evidence that fixing malpractice laws would save money. there's also no hard evidence that overhauling fee-for-service reimbursement will save money either--but almost everyone associated with healthcare understands that cost-containment requires a fundamental change in the culture of health care delivery, starting with getting rid of the incentives (both positive and negative) to always do more.
Today's New York Times op-ed by Jon R. Gabel addresses the fallacy of looking for hard data with fundamental change. "The budget office has particular difficulty estimating savings when it considers more than one change at once.... [I]f both malpractice reform and comparative effectiveness studies were instituted simultaneously, they might work together to yield substantial savings."
(Photo: Flickr User aflcio2008)