Medical Liability System 'Irrational,' AMA Chair Tells Congress

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , January 27, 2011

 "Part of this is driven by the Republicans taking over the House," she adds. "We have been asking all members – Democrats and Republicans to do it," Hoven says of medical liability reform. "There is a lot of push now, as we talk about the Affordable Care Act," she says.

After her testimony, she says she was taken aback by some "theatrics" among members of Congress, but overall, she felt she got a fair shake by the committee. When I asked her about prospects for legislation, she said, "I have no idea. I could not tell from that hearing one way or another."

By January 25, however, a bipartisan bill was introduced to include what co-sponsors David Scott, D-GA, and the committee chairman, Lamar Smith, R-TX, called reforms to fix the "broken medical liability system, reduce healthcare costs and "preserve" patients' access to medical care. Another co-sponsor was Rep. Phil Gingrey, MD, (R-GA). The AMA and 100 other medical and physician organizations then sent a letter to the lawmakers, supporting the proposed Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2011.

Maybe there's a reason the name is so cumbersome. 

There is a "long road" ahead, for whatever prospects for change takes place, Hoven said before the bill was introduced. "You want this to be taken care of before 2012," she says, noting another political benchmark: the presidential elections.

Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.
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