House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), senior Health Subcommittee Member Phil Gingrey, M.D. (R-Ga.), and Congressman David Scott (D-Ga.) today introduced The HEALTH Act (H.R. 5), a bill that includes meaningful medical liability reforms to lower the cost of health care while strengthening the doctor-patient relationship.
In introducing the bill, the members urged President Obama to consider medical malpractice reforms that have proved effective in reducing health care costs while maintaining a high quality of care. President Obama has previously said that he wants to work to "scale back the excessive defensive medicine and shift to a system where we are providing better care, simply -- rather than simply more treatment."
Chairman Smith: "The medical profession is plagued by frivolous lawsuits that are nothing more than the legalized extortion of doctors and hospitals. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, 40% of malpractice suits filed in the U.S. are "without merit.' These suits drive up the cost of health care for all Americans and drive many experienced medical professionals out of business.
"Medical malpractice reform is the best way to reduce the costly practice of defensive medicine. The HEALTH Act incorporates lawsuit abuse reforms that have proved effective in states at reducing costs and enhancing the quality of care by limiting frivolous lawsuits.
"I urge President Obama to consider the effectiveness of malpractice reform and show bipartisan leadership by expressing support for time-tested tort reform proposals in his State of the Union address tomorrow. The American people deserve to benefit from the reduced costs and quality care that are the result of meaningful malpractice reforms."
Congressman Gingrey: "The HEALTH Act's proven reforms will make medical malpractice insurance affordable again, encourage health care practitioners to maintain their practices, reduce health care costs for patients, and save billions of dollars a year in federal taxpayer dollars by reducing the need for "defensive medicine.' It is an effective way to stop wasteful spending within our health care system, while ensuring better outcomes for patients."
"As Co-Chair of the GOP Doctors Caucus and with over 30 years of experience as a physician, I know that the HEALTH Act is a time-tested and bipartisan approach to meaningful health care reform. If the President and Congress are truly interested in lowering the cost of health care in this country, the HEALTH Act is a very good place to start."
Congressman Scott: "Americans face many health care challenges including high annual insurance premium increases and too few doctors. Our legislation focuses on expenses that doctors face in higher medical malpractice insurance premiums and the expensive defensive medicine they practice as a hedge against liability.
"We also provide more certainty to young medical students who have been concerned about liability threats. While reducing frivolous liability claims will not solve all the health care challenges in the US, it can go a long way to helping doctors focus on what matters most: providing care."