WASHINGTON, DC – US House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) today expressed his disappointment to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for refusing to work with Congress to implement serious medical malpractice reform. After President Obama announced his support for medical liability reform in this year’s State of the Union address, committee leaders sent a letter to the president pledging to work with the administration on this issue. Nearly five months later, on June 16, Secretary Sebelius responded on behalf of the president and touted a $25 million initiative the administration established in 2009 to study the issue. Upton responded to Sebelius’ letter:
“It appears to betray what many of us have thought for some time: the administration will only give lip service to medical malpractice reform, but has no intention to take on the issue in a serious way.
“No one seriously questions that our current tort system is driving doctors from the practice of medicine. And the Congressional Budget Office estimates that common-sense reforms to the system will save taxpayers tens of billions of dollars a year – at a time when all of us are struggling to reduce our $14.5 trillion in debt.
“My committee has favorably reported H.R. 5, the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare Act of 2011. This legislation actually provides a solution to a problem. In sharp contrast, your letter suggests that spending $25 million on grants, and requesting even more money for the next fiscal year, will somehow prove to be a panacea to one of the biggest crises in our health care system.
“I sincerely offer to work with you and the administration on medical malpractice reform. We can – and need to – find solutions that benefit patients, health care providers, and the American taxpayer much sooner rather than later.”