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Wayne Parsons
Wayne Parsons
Attorney • (808) 845-2211

Tort Reform Myth: Myth: Health care costs are rising and doctors are unable to practice due to litigation.

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Health care costs are rising; however, medical malpractice litigation has nothing to do with it. According to the Congressional Budget Office, medical malpractice amounted to less than 2 percent of overall health care spending. "Limiting Tort Liability for Medical Malpractice," Congressional Budget Office 1/08/04":

President Bush will ignore the real causes of skyrocketing healthcare costs, such as high drug prices and unregulated insurance premiums, during his economic summit today because he has received $786,262 from drug companies, $4,790,475 from insurance firms and $764,333 from HMOs and other health insurers, said the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR).

"Rather than face the facts, President Bush remains obsessed with blaming injured patients while refusing to tackle any issue that would offend the special interests," said Douglas Heller, Executive Director of the nonprofit, nonpartisan FTCR. "Instead of looking for savings by cutting the fat out of the HMOs, insurance companies and drug firms, it is easier for Bush to attack the constitutional rights of Americans injured by medical malpractice."

American consumers and employers could save more than $100 billion annually with a federal prescription drug bulk purchasing program, FTCR noted, but it is unlikely to be discussed during the Bush summit. By refusing to stand up to his special interest contributors, President Bush ignores key facts concerning economic costs of the healthcare system:

Insurance companies do not reduce physicians’ premiums when restrictions on medical malpractice lawsuits are enacted, according to formal regulatory filings Nation’s Largest Medical Malpractice Insurer Declares Caps on Damages Don’t Work, Raises Docs’ Premiums" and GE Medical Protective documents;

Malpractice costs represent less than 2 percent of overall health care spending – Limiting Tort Liability for Medical Malpractice," Congressional Budget Office 1/08/04 ;

The Government Accountability Office also found that malpractice cases have not widely affected access to health care. Medical Malpractice: Implications of Rising Premiums on Access to Health Care, GAO, 9/29/03

According to the American Medical Association, the overall number of physicians is up more than 40 percent since 1990: “Physician Characteristics and Distribution in the U.S.,” American Medical Association, 2006 edition, p.312. At the same time, the U.S. population increased by only 18 percent according to U.S. Census Bureau data. The number of emergency physicians, neurosurgeons, and OB/GYNs has also increased significantly over the same time period.