Not content in seeking reform to the health insurance system in the United States, President Obama is now pushing for changes in Malpractice law. This apparently involves cutting down on the number of tests carried out by doctors simply because they fear a malpractice suit if something goes wrong.
In order to do this, the Obama government is giving a grant totalling $250 million to the various States to enable the latter to rewrite their laws.
A spokeswoman from the Federal Justice Department told reporters: “These grants will help states reform their laws to pursue innovative approaches that will improve the quality of health care, reduce medical costs and liability, and protect patient safety.”
The new reforms would also see the set up of health courts which will see specially trained lawyers and judges deciding on cases rather than juries. This could prove contentious.
However Philip Howard, founder of Common Good, a not for profit group advocating changes in the legal system said: “Health courts offer much more protection for fearful physicians than caps because you are unlikely to get a crazy verdict when you have an expert judge.”
On the other hand, those who are opposing the reforms believe removing trial by jury undermines people’s constitutional rights.
As expected, President Obama’s reforms were not welcomed by members of the Republican Party, who view it as more Government interference. But malpractice suits over the past few years have grown at an alarming rate, and many people believe it is something that needs addressing urgently.
Some other proposals of the Obama Bill include so called ‘safe harbour’ laws for medical practitioners which aim to protect them, provided they follow guidelines of best practice. Also being proposed is a programme that expects doctors and others to accept responsibility for their actions and at the very least offer an apology or (if necessary) pay compensation.
No doubt Obama will get a rough ride as he has had over his health insurance laws.