Months into the emotionally charged health care debate, the negative impact that out-of-control litigation is having on our system is finally getting some attention. In a recent speech to Congress, President Obama said what many have long-insisted: Reforming our medical malpractice laws can help bring down the cost of health care. Now, I don’t believe that medical malpractice reform is a silver bullet, but I’ve talked to enough doctors to know that defensive medicine may be contributing to unnecessary costs.
In fact, curbing lawsuit abuse to improve health care access and affordability is a no-brainer. The American Medical Association has found that liability pressure increases health system costs by between $84 and $151 billion per year. Meanwhile, a 2006 study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health estimated that nearly 40 percent of the medical malpractice lawsuits filed in the U.S. were without merit.
Many personal injury lawyers file suit against physicians, hospitals and other health care providers claiming to act in patients’ best interests. But, too often, they’re just preying on the system for their own personal gain.
The time for meaningful medical liability reform is now. As Rep. Charles Boustany, a former cardiovascular surgeon who now represents Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District, recently said in a nationally televised speech, we need to establish tough liability reform standards, encourage speedy resolution of claims, and deter junk lawsuits that drive up the cost of care. Real reform must do this.
Indeed, rampant medical liability lawsuits have spawned a culture of defensive medicine where doctors are often forced to order expensive and sometimes dangerous tests to rule out highly improbable diagnoses, simply to protect themselves against lawsuits. These unnecessary tests and procedures do not result in better health outcomes, and the unnecessary costs are inevitably passed along to us in the form of higher insurance premiums and deductibles.
This does not bode well for our health or our wallets.
President Obama and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle must work together on medical malpractice reforms that will help control costs, better protect doctors and, most importantly, better serve patients.
So far the Democratic agenda includes proposals to expand Medicaid; increase the minimum wage; offer equal pay to women; heighten regulations on predatory lending practices, like payday loans; and add more transparency in the governor’s office.
Hot-button education issues ranging from Common Core to charter schools have some lawmakers pushing to scrap the appointing process and go back to electing the state's super.
Police say the handcuffed man fatally shot himself in the back, but his family isn't buying the story.
Gov. Bobby Jindal offered a budget proposal that suggests new education and health care spending, pay raises for state workers and an incentive fund to encourage colleges to enhance their science, engineering and technology training.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday, March 11, 2014:
Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
They came by the hundreds, arriving from all regions of the state to gather on the steps of our Capitol in protest of the Legislature’s long tradition of giving industry the go-ahead to abuse our air, our water and our coastline, all in the name of good economics.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent rhetoric against President Barack Obama has failed to boost his standing among the conservative base.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.