PPACA Fails to Fulfill Its Minimal Promise on Medical Malpractice Reform

November 11, 2011

When it was enacted in 2010, the new health care law failed to solve the medical malpractice problem, but at least it contained an implicit acknowledgement of its impact on health care costs by including $50 million to test alternatives to the current medical liability system, but even that small bone has withered away.  The system's defenders have no interest in pursuing any reform, and reform advocates fail to see any gain from throwing even a modest amount of federal funds at the problem.  Thus, beyond some meager initial funding for a few small demonstration projects, Congress has failed to include funding for the effort.  House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) told Politico: “The President’s demonstration projects are an attempt to profess interest in malpractice reforms without actually taking action.  We don’t need to ‘demonstrate’ that medical malpractice reforms are effective; that has already been proven in the states where these reforms have been enacted.”  Meanwhile HR Policy-supported legislation to enact significant reforms (H.R. 5) is on hold as Republican proponents hope to include it in a “repeal and replace” PPACA measure if they win Congress and the White House in the next election.