LAW WEEK COLORADO
Calls for federal tort reform have joined proposals to replace the Affordable Care Act, which has medical malpractice attorneys as well as physicians watching for what might come out of Capitol Hill.
Congress’ renewed debate over damages caps on medical malpractice awards, among other tools to reduce medmal litigation, could have some states taking another look at their current tort policies.
Repealing, or at least overhauling, the ACA is widely considered the GOP’s number-one priority as Congress reconvenes with a soon-to-be Republican White House. Medical malpractice reform has found its way into some repeal-and-replace proposals, like Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s “A Better Way” plan revealed in June. The plan touts medical liability reform “that includes caps on noneconomic damages will improve patients’ access to quality care while reducing the overall cost of health care in America.”
Rep. Tom Price, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to be the next secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, is a former orthopedic surgeon and an outspoken critic of the ACA. He helped shaped the “Better Way” agenda and bemoaned the national medmal litigation climate that he said gave rise to defensive medicine. Defensive medicine is the practice of physicians ordering tests or treatments that are likely unnecessary for patients in order to protect themselves from lawsuits.