There are some politicians who claim that the solution to runaway health-care spending is capping jury awards in medical malpractice lawsuits. The typical proposal is capping jury awards at $250,000. That’s right, even if you suffer a permanent, life-altering injury that leaves you debilitated and requiring the assistance of others, the most damages you could get is $250,000. Also, some proposals don’t index that $250K for inflation, so that value of that money would continue to decrease.
Tom Baker published a book titled The Medical Malpractice Myth, where he asserts that the arguments put forth by tort reform advocates is just “urban legend mixed with the occasional true story, supported by selective references to academic studies, according to Slate.com. Mr. Baker accurately points out that, when you add up all of the legal fees, insurance costs, and jury award payouts, the cost of these medical negligence suits comes to less than one-half of 1 percent of health-care spending. In fact, in 2011, payouts to victims of medical malpractice were at the lowest levels…ever. Yes, you read that correctly. This shocking data was reported by the consumer watchdog Public Citizen.
Here's a video featuring the head of the CBO talking about how tort reform will do very little, if anything, to reduce health care costs:
Politicians who have their head on straight understand that capping jury awards is not the answer. Instead, they make sensible proposals like trying to reduce the frequency of preventable medical mistakes and hospital-acquired illnesses.
Our medical malpractice law firm has written extensively about the weak tort reform arguments and just how misguided these proposals are. Take a look at some of these articles here: