A BETTER SOLUTION

March 9, 2010

President Obama last week sent a letter to congressional leaders indicating his support for including $50 million to fund demonstration projects to test medical malpractice case alternatives such as health courts.  Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius already has $23 million that she is preparing to hand out in grants for this purpose.  But are health courts the solution to the nation's medical malpractice difficulties, asks the National Journal?  What are the best ideas for solving the problem of defensive medicine, and how significant is defensive medicine to lowering health care costs in the country? 

According to John C. Goodman, President, CEO and the Kellye Wright Fellow of the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), President Obama has no solution to the malpractice problem. 

The NCPA, has developed a very radical solution -- one that would get victims compensated quickly, regardless of fault, and erect economic incentives to reduce adverse medical outcomes, whether or not they involve malpractice, says Goodman: 

  • Basically, the family of any patient who experiences an unexpected (iatrogenic) hospital death would receive a check for, say, $250,000 (or maybe even $500,000) provided they waive in advance their common law right to file a tort claim.
  • The insurers who pay off on these episode-specific policies would then become the monitors of doctor behavior and hospital quality.
  • Those with lower mortality rates (for whatever reason) would pay lower premiums and therefore be able to charge lower fees to patients. 

Source: Marilyn Werber Serafini, "Medical Malpractice Solution?" NationalJournal.com, March 8, 2010; and John C. Goodman, "A Better Solution," NationalJournal.com, March 8, 2010. 

For text:

http://healthcare.nationaljournal.com/2010/03/medical-malpractice-solution.php?rss=1  

For NCPA plan:

http://www.ncpa.org/pdfs/statehcreform/Chapter_10_Pages%20from%20State_HC_Reform_6-8-07-2.pdf

 

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