Below Parr Richey Obremskey Frandsen & Patterson Attorney Paul Kruse responds to an editorial published earlier this fall in the Lebanon Reporter. Mr. Kruse counters several myths relating to tort reform for medical malpractice lawsuits, citing studies supporting his argument that medical malpractice costs represent a small percentage of overall healthcare costs. Furthermore, Mr. Kruse explains why no further tort reform for medical malpractice claims is necessary.
Your recent editorial on September 17, 2009, authored by Chip Minemyer, titled “Without Tort Reform, There Should Be No Health Overhaul,” was misleading and inaccurate. It was simply an attempt to influence public opinion in favor of big corporations and insurance companies and harpoon injury victims’ claims.
Minemyer starts his column with the statement that litigation reform is an issue “central to improving the cost of healthcare and access to treatment.” In fact, the cost of medical malpractice is actually a tiny percentage of healthcare costs, in part because medical malpractice claims are far less frequent than insurance companies would lead people to believe. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), malpractice costs amount to less than two percent of overall healthcare spending.
President Obama proposed to implement measures to limit the legal rights of severely injured persons as part of the healthcare discussion, apparently as a bargaining chip to reduce Republican opposition to his healthcare reform plan. His medical malpractice reform proposal will hurt patients and dump more cost on taxpayers. It would not eliminate death and injuries but merely shift costs of caring for malpractice victims from perpetrators of malpractice to hard pressed state Medicaid systems, for which state and federal taxpayers share the cost. In fact, according to the insurance industry’s own data, medical malpractice insurance claims and premiums have been trending downward for years.