On November 3, 2011, the U.S. Congressional Budget Office (“CBO”) offered a presentation at the Annual Fall Research Conference of the Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management entitled CBO’s Use of Evidence in Analysis of Budget and Economic Policies (source) in which the CBO included a discussion of its use of evidence in analyzing proposals to limit costs related to medical malpractice.
The CBO stated that it analyzed a package of medical malpractice tort reform proposals that would impose limits on medical malpractice litigation in state and federal courts by (1) capping noneconomic damages, (2) capping punitive damages, (3) modifying the statute of limitations, (4) changing rules regarding collateral sources of income, and (5) eliminating the joint and several liability of medical malpractice wrongdoers. The CBO reported that studies regarding the medical malpractice tort reform proposals concluded that caps on noneconomic damages had negative impacts on health and that as the risk of medical malpractice litigation falls, that risk produces a small increase in the mortality rate.
The CBO estimated that since many states had already implemented so-called medical malpractice tort reforms, a significant fraction of the potential cost savings had already been realized. Before 2009, the CBO focused on impacts of tort reform on medical malpractice insurance premiums and interpreted the evidence about the effects of tort reform on the use of health care services as mixed. In October, 2009, the CBO updated its estimate of budgetary effects of medical malpractice tort reform and noted newer research that indicated that lowering medical malpractice costs tends to reduce the use of services.
The mandate of the CBO is to provide Congress with objective, nonpartisan, and timely analyses to aid in economic and budgetary decisions on the wide array of programs covered by the federal budget and to provide Congress with the information and estimates required for the Congressional budget process — the CBO does not provide policy recommendations. Source
But the financial analysis of the economic cost of medical malpractice claims such as medical malpractice insurance premiums and the medical expenses incurred by the victims of medical malpractice that the CBO may be able to provide to Congress is only one-half of the total cost of medical malpractice claims — noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and disfigurement that can be life-long and life-altering are the natural result of medical malpractice mistakes in the United States that are often overlooked or intentionally ignored by the proponents of medical malpractice tort reform laws because those costs are not subject to objective calculation — different people will often place different monetary values on noneconomic damages based not only on the evidence of such damages that they are provided, but also based on their own personal experiences, beliefs, and values. The proponents of medical malpractice tort reform are opposed to anything that they cannot predict or control, and they cannot predict or control how others will value noneconomic losses suffered by the innocent victims of medical malpractice.
Inasmuch as the CBO deals with economic and budgetary matters only, it does not provide Congress with any analysis of the social impact or non-financial impact of proposed legislation — the CBO does not analyze the catastrophic emotional effects of medical malpractice on its victims or their family members. The CBO does not provide Congress with an analysis of the effects of never-ending, debilitating pain suffered by victims of medical malpractice. The CBO does not provide Congress with an analysis of how medical malpractice tort reform proposals may destroy family values and family relationships by limiting the right of medical malpractice victims to be fully compensated for their losses that resulted from careless or negligent medical mistakes or errors. The CBO does not provide Congress with an analysis of the financial value of the emotional well-being of innocent victims of medical malpractice. The CBO does not tell Congress the value of the loss of enjoyment of life suffered by those permanently injured by medical malpractice errors.
In short, Congress is being provided with only one-half of the appropriate analysis of the effect of proposed tort reform laws — the full impact on the victims of medical malpractice is being ignored to the detriment of the U.S. public. As many parents have wisely advised their children since the dawn of civilization: if you don’t have your health, you have nothing.
If you or a loved one have become the victim of medical negligence causing serious injuries or other substantial losses, you may be entitled to compensation for your economic and noneconomic damages. Visit our website or call us toll free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with local medical malpractice lawyers who may be able to assist you.
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