Can Medical Liability Reform Save the Healthcare Overhaul?

Elyas Bakhtiari, for HealthLeaders Media , September 3, 2009

But it shouldn't be. There are many effective alternatives to capping damages—health courts that peer review cases, "disclosure and offer" agreements that settle disputes outside of court, and safe harbors for physicians that adhere to care standards.

The House amendment rewards states for experimenting with some of these options. Rather than relying on the bluntness of damage caps, we can test combinations of measures that both reduce errors that lead to malpractice lawsuits and help fairly settle disputes after the fact.

Negotiations will undoubtedly be heated, but at least they would be covering a topic of substance. Instead of focusing on death panels and socialism, this is the type of discussion needed to move real, bipartisan reform forward.

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Elyas Bakhtiari is a freelance editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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