Proponents of tort reform are seizing on their opportunity with a GOP-controlled Congress to push forward with a series of measures that would make it harder to win medical malpractice and personal injury lawsuits, as well as to obtain just compensation.
As The New York Times reported, one of those measures would impose new limits on lawsuits involving care that is covered by Medicare, Medicaid or private health insurance subsidized by the Affordable Care Act, with some limits applying to product liability claims as well as medical malpractice litigation involving physicians, hospitals and nursing homes. In effect, it is lower income and older people who would find it the most difficult to win lawsuits for injuries caused by defective drugs, defective medical devices or negligent medical care. This bill is part of the plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.
Proponents of the measure say it is a necessary means to lower the number of “frivolous lawsuits” that drive up health care costs for everyone else. Of course, this assertion has been disproven time and again. Take for example the Florida Supreme Court’s decision in 2014 rejecting a 2003 medical malpractice law and lambasting the legislature for manufacturing an alleged medical malpractice crisis that didn’t exist to pass unnecessary tort reform. In a 5-2 ruling, the court suggested lawmakers created the crisis to cap damages on medical malpractice cases, which saves a modest amount of money for many at a “devastating” cost on a few – namely those who have suffered the most severe and egregious injuries due to medical negligence or defective medical products. The law was ultimately deemed unconstitutional under the state’s equal protection clause. Continue reading