( – promoted by Mike “DD4RP” Rossettie)
Representative Jeff Perry (R-Sandwich), a candidate for Congress, took up the fight today to contain healthcare costs through his tort reform amendment to House Bill 4915, An Act Related to Health Care Cost Containment. In an effort to make real reform to health care costs, Perry introduced an amendment (#13) to force a debate on this important health care issue.
“Government has also failed to reform the opportunity to purchase health insurance across state lines, reduce administrative burdens on health care providers, and has made no attempt to reform our medical and tort liability system,” Perry said. “The purpose of my proposal today was to force legislators to take on the primary reason why health care costs are so high: tort liability and defensive medicine.”
According to a 2007 Massachusetts Medical Society study, 48 percent of physicians in the state “have altered or limited their services because of liability concerns.” The amendment filed by Perry protects physicians and nurses administering immunizations or other protective programs under public health programs from liability in civil suits. The amendment also provides the requirement that any expert witness in a medical malpractice case must be in the same specialty as the defendant, providing a standard level of integrity in malpractice cases. Perry’s amendment also limited non-economic damage awards at $250,000.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, 40 percent of medical malpractice suits filed in the U.S. are “without merit.” The threat of these lawsuits requires doctors to purchase malpractice insurance at greatly inflated expense. Massachusetts Medical Society found that 83 percent of its doctors practice this sort of defensive medicine. The costs of litigation and defensive medicine are passed on to the patient in the price of health care.
“The amendment aimed to lower the costs that are passed on to patients. If passed, the amendment would have provided real tort reform and real changes in rising healthcare costs for the state of Massachusetts. Sadly, the majority of legislators stuck with the status quo and did not support this real chance to address our rising health care costs,” said Perry, after the House voted 24 – 128 against the bill. The entire Republican Caucus voted in favor of Perry’s proposal, along with nine Democrats.