A new article by the New England Journal of Medicine, entitled "Medical Liability--Prospects for Federal Reform", dated March 29, 2017, strongly refutes the supposed "benefits" of tort reform. Congress is strongly pushing for reform of medical liability laws as part of a new agenda, and part of the proposed law, HR 1215, would impose a federal non-economic damages cap of $250k in medical malpractice cases, except in states that already have a different damages cap.
The study by the New England Journal of Medicine found that caps on non-economic damages would not improve the quality of patient care. The authors of the study state that, "Caps have not been shown to improve the quality of care, a key goal fo the tort system."
Based upon a study conducted between 1990 and 2016, the New England Journal of Medicine found that caps on non-economic damages would have:
- No effect on health care spending,
- No effect on quality of care and patient outcomes,
- No effect on health insurance coverage rates
The New England Journal of Medicine notes that it is an "odd time for Congress to be considering malpractice reform." The study points out that the malpractice environments are currently stable; the incidence of paid claims has shrunk by half in the past decade; indemnity payments have declined or plateaued, and many physicians pay less for liability insurance that they did a decade ago. The study references data supporting each of these statements from 1990 through 2016.
The New England Journal of Medicine notes that the "controlling consideration is maximizing health care providers' protection against liability" and finished the stunning rebuttal of tort reform by stating, "So is a push for liability reform at this moment appropriate? We don't think so."
Despite the facts, the public perception is that malpractice costs are ruining our health care system and Tom Price, M.D., Secretary of Health & Human Services, is promoting tort reform as his top priority.
Who benefits from tort reform? Insurance companies and doctors. Who gets hurt in the end? Patients.