There's no proof tort reform reduces health costs

Bard is the Alvin R. Allison Professor of Law and director of the Health Law Program at Texas Tech University School of Law and an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Texas Tech University School of Medicine.

Written by: Jessica Behnham

It's not as rare as you think for President Barack Obama and Gov. Sarah Palin to be in complete agreement on an issue of national importance.

In August, she wrote on her Facebook page that “we cannot have health care reform without litigation reform.” Speaking to the American Association of family physicians a few weeks later, President Obama said, “I have talked to enough doctors to know that defensive medicine may be contributing to unnecessary costs. ... So I am proposing that we move forward on a range of ideas about how to put patient safety first and let doctors focus on practicing medicine.” Both of them are wrong. There is no evidence to suggest that limiting the rights of individuals to bring lawsuits will either lower the cost of health care or increase its quality. In fact, were this true, Texas would have the cheapest and best health care in the nation. The provisions of the tort reform legislation passed in 2003 have essentially eliminated medical malpractice suits. Indeed, things are so bad the lawyers for the insurance companies are complaining about the loss of business.

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