Current Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has expressed his opinions on medical malpractice reforms. On his 2012 presidential candidate website, Mr. Romney states, “The current medical liability system encourages defensive medicine and drives up health care costs. To address these problems, Mitt Romney will cap non-economic damages in medical malpractice litigation. He also believes in providing innovation grants to states for additional medical liability reforms, such as alternative dispute resolution or health care courts.”
In Mitt Romney’s book entitled No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, he notes three general categories of medical malpractice reforms that he promotes as having the greatest impact on health care costs. These reforms are: limiting noneconomic damages (damages for pain and suffering, disfigurement, mental anguish, emotional distress, etc.) in medical malpractice cases; having special health care courts decide medical malpractice cases; and, establishing a pre-determined schedule for medical malpractice awards.
(See page 181 of No Apology)
While running for President of the United States in 2007, then-candidate Mitt Romney was quoted as stating, “”These lottery-sized awards and frivolous lawsuits may enrich the trial lawyers but they put a heavy burden on doctors, hospitals and…the entire health care system.”
“Lottery-Sized Awards” And “Frivolous Lawsuits”?
Mr. Romney refers to “lottery-sized awards” and “frivolous lawsuits” that “may enrich the trial lawyers,” but he fails to provide specific examples of his aspersion. Is $15 million for the death of a 3-year-old who died as a result of medical malpractice in Massachusetts (the largest medical malpractice verdict in 2009 in Mr. Romney’s home state) a “lottery-sized award” or a “frivolous lawsuit”? (see our Blog for December 10, 2011 that discusses this particular medical malpractice case).
“A heavy burden on doctors…”
Is the burden heavier on the parents who lost a 3-year-old-child due to medical malpractice or on the doctors whose medical malpractice insurance company will have to pay the judgment that an independent and unbiased jury found to be fair compensation for the inconsolable parents of the now-deceased child?
Why Do Our Presidential Candidates Focus Solely On Protecting The Financial Interests Of Health Care Providers To The Exclusion Of Protecting Medical Malpractice Victims When Discussing Medical Mapractice Reform?
Candidates for public office, whether they are campaigning on the state level or on the national level, tend to espouse so-called medical malpractice “reform,” such as limits on the amounts that victims of medical malpractice can recover for their noneconomic damages, in non-specific terms that focus solely on the financial interests of medical malpractice insurance companies (rarely are doctors who commit medical malpractice required to pay for their injurious wrongdoing out of their own pockets) rather than the egregious and permanent impact that medical malpractice has on its victims and their families. Taken to its absurd limit, these same politicians would argue that we should not pay to take care of our military members who are wounded while defending our country because of the “heavy burden” on the taxpayers for national defense.
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