House Judiciary Committee scheduled to markup HEALTH Act Wednesday
by Lamar Smith on February 8, 2011 at 12:33 PM
Last month, I voted to repeal the Democrat’s flawed health care law. As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I am working in Congress to enact common sense solutions that will reduce health care costs without imposing burdensome taxes and mandates.
I joined a bipartisan group of Members to introduce the HEALTH Act, a bill that includes medical liability reforms that have already proved to lower health care costs while strengthening the doctor-patient relationship.
Last year, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) determined that a legal reform package modeled on Republican-supported reforms would reduce the federal budget deficit by an estimated $54 billion over the next 10 years—and that is a conservative estimate.
In Texas, we have already seen these reforms work. Medical malpractice reform resulted in a drop in health care premiums of 27 percent, while at the same time the number of doctors applying to practice in the state has increased by 60 percent.
That means Texans pay less to have better health care.
There is clear need to bring this common sense and cost-reducing reform to the federal level. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, 40% of medical malpractice suits filed in the U.S. are “without merit.”
The threat of these suits forces doctors to practice “defensive medicine” and prescribe tests or treatments not medically required. This practice drives up health care costs for the rest of us.
Unfortunately, rather than including reforms to limit frivolous lawsuits, the law passed by last Congress goes exactly the wrong direction. It allows trial lawyers to opt out of any alternatives to litigation and continue filing lawsuits. And we know they’ll do this, because it’s how they make money. So bottom line: good for trial lawyers, bad for doctors, patients, and taxpayers.
The HEALTH Act will help American families struggling with health care costs and protect medical personnel who are overburdened by the high cost of malpractice insurance. The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to markup the HEALTH Act on Wednesday, February 9.