WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (PA-15) today offered an amendment to the pending health-care legislation that would have provided liability reforms to actually lower the rising costs of health care. On Saturday, Congressman Dent went before the Rules Committee to offer his amendment and urge it be considered by the full House on the floor.
“If we are serious about enacting meaningful health care reform that will ensure that all Americans have access to quality care, we must address the issue of cost,” Congressman Dent said. “The medical justice system is one of the major drivers of cost in our health care system.”
Congressman Dent’s amendment would encourage states to enact alterative liability reform measures that cut down costly “defensive medicine” practices, and promote alternative resolution avenues in order to reduce the number of health care lawsuits that are litigated and the average amount of time taken to resolve lawsuits. He previously introduced these measures as standalone legislation, H.R. 4039, the Ending Defensive Medicine and Encouraging Innovative Reforms Act of 2009. In November, Congressman Dent offered the same amendment to the House health-care legislation, again to have it rejected by Rules before the House could even consider it.
Through the several incarnations of health care legislation that have been offered, Congressman Dent noted the lack of substantial medical liability reform — which the Congressional Budget Office has said could save $54 billion over the next decade. The savings would be the result of direct savings from lower premiums for medical liability insurance and also indirect savings from reduced utilization of health care services.
“Doctors practice defensive medicine, ordering tests and treatments that are not truly needed but prescribed to ward off frivolous lawsuits,” Congressman Dent said. “The practice of defensive medicine costs the United States more than $100 billion per year - some studies have estimated the cost may be as high as $151 billion to $210 billion annually. In Pennsylvania, not only are medical liability insurance rates increasing costs for patients, they are driving qualified doctors out of the Commonwealth.”