A major topic of discussion of late has been the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act or, Obamacare. While the possible repeal would mean widespread changes to the American health care system, one change that has rarely been talked about is the impact on future medical malpractice cases.
A possible replacement of the Affordable Care Act has yet to be formed but by all accounts, any replacement would carry with it a clause that would deprive Americans the ability to sue health care professionals for negligence that caused physical harm.
Proponents of the repeal claim that a very real and ongoing medical malpractice crisis is threatening American health care based upon lawsuits they claim to be frivolous. The belief is that lawsuits are driving up malpractice insurance premiums and forcing health care providers out of business while doctors and hospitals live in constant fear of litigation. Proposals have been discussed that would potentially make it easier for health care providers to defend themselves in malpractice cases and raise the burden of proof on patients claiming to have been injured. It is also possible that harsh limits on damage awards could be implemented.
However, America may not be facing any type of medical malpractice crisis. It has been reported that health care providers are paying less for malpractice insurance than they did in 2001 and the rate of claims has dropped by half since 2003. Researcher, Nicholas Pace, has stated that it is a relatively calm time for medical malpractice cases in the United States and that no such crisis currently exists.
In fact, studies have shown that that 3% of the nation’s $3.2 trillion in health-care spending is related to malpractice cases as well as what is known as, “defensive medicine” which involves the ordering of unnecessary tests and treatments to protect against litigation.
Proponents of the repeal counter those numbers by claiming that a Congressional Budget Office report suggests that major tort reform in the area of medical malpractice would reduce health care costs by $54 billion between 2010 and 2019. However, the referenced Congressional Budget Office report is nearly ten years old. A 2016 study performed on states that currently limit patients’ legal rights when it comes to medical negligence found that the limitations had no impact on insurance rates for health care providers.
It remains to be seen whether Congress will put landscape altering tort reform into place but it is definitely something to monitor as the Nation’s new administration begin making changes. It is also possible that changes could cause heavy litigation in that the 7th Amendment could be called into question by the reform. After all, it is that Amendment that preserves the right to civil jury trial.
Medical malpractice can have devastating effects that last a lifetime. If you have been injured by a physician’s neglect, attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian will work to get you the full compensation to which you are entitled. Call 800-529-6162 today or contact them online for a free case evaluation. They handle cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.
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