To Fix Health Care, Fix Malpractice Mess

But that requires ignoring special interests—an unlikely scenario
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jul 15, 2009 9:08 AM CDT
Acting Senate Health, Education, Labor and pensions Committee Chairman Sen. Christopher Dodd, right, and ranking Republican Sen. Mike Enzi are seen June 23, 2009.   (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – If we’re going to reform health care, we need to contain the vast costs of a malpractice system that chiefly benefits trial lawyers, writes Philip Howard in the Wall Street Journal. As it stands, “billions of dollars are wasted in ‘defensive medicine,’” and 60% of spending in the system goes to lawyers and administrative costs. But Congress is too concerned with protecting trial lawyers to change the status quo.

A key factor driving defensive medicine is the current system’s inconsistency in meting out justice. But when one senator suggested trying out special health courts, which could ensure “expertise and consistency,” the idea was quickly trampled by other senators, who argued the need for juries. In fact, “special courts without juries are common in America,” writes Howard, as in courts for bankruptcy and tax disputes. "Congress is mortgaging our children's future," he concludes. "Protecting trial lawyers is not the solution." (Read more health care stories.)