The President’s Broken Record on Malpractice Reform

September 27, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – In the New England Journal of Medicine this week, President Obama expressed sympathy for physicians overburdened with filling out insurance forms and stated, “I support medical malpractice reform to prevent needless lawsuits without placing arbitrary caps that do nothing to lower the cost of care.”

On the surface, this sounds like positive news for physicians, patients, and taxpayers who bear the financial burden of frivolous lawsuits. But, the president’s promise to implement medical malpractice reform ring hallow as he has repeatedly made the same pledge to act, but still has failed to deliver.

Let’s review….

During his January 2011 State of the Union address, President Obama declared, “I’m willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, including one that Republicans suggested last year: medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits.”

The next day, Energy and Commerce Republicans sent a letter to president pledging to work with his administration on this issue.

As the committee waited for the president to respond, House Republicans went to work, holding hearings and introducing legislation to implement common-sense medical liability reforms that would save billions of dollars. The House approved the legislation, H.R. 5, with a bipartisan vote of 223-181.

Meanwhile, it took nearly five months for the administration to respond to the committee’s letter, and the response was simply to tout a $25 million Obamacare grant to further study the issue.

Despite Republicans’ numerous attempts to work with the president, the administration has demonstrated no genuine effort to address one of the major cost drivers in our nation’s health care system. Sadly the president continues to protect his close friends and supporters, the trial lawyers.

Congress has repeatedly signaled a willingness to work together on this important issue. Mr. President, if you support medical malpractice reform as you continue to state, what is stopping you from moving forward?  

It is time for the president to live up to his rhetoric and finally put doctors, patients, and taxpayers first. Actions speak louder than words.