Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Over at the Capital Fax Blog, Rich Miller asks for folks' opinions about medical malpractice reform. Here's mine:

The supporters of malpractice reform tell us that we need it to keep health care professionals from fleeing Illinois and its high malpractice insurance premiums. Therefore, it seems to me that any malpractice reform should be directed at lowering – or at least limiting the increase in – the premium costs of health care providers.

The simplest way to do this would be to put caps on the amount that insurance companies can charge doctors.

Attempts to lower premium costs through "tort 'reform'" are needlessly inefficient because they increase the degree of separation between the problem, doctor's high premium costs, and the purported solution, limits on jury awards.

Tort reform is a multi-step Rube Goldberg plan based on an unproven series of assumptions:
  • that limiting jury awards may lower the amount insurance companies have to pay in malpractice judgments, and
  • that insurance companies could then lower the amount of their premiums, and
  • that more doctors might then stay in Illinois.

If any of these assumptions are wrong, tort reform won’t keep a single doctor in Illinois.

Everyone agrees that any threat of doctors leaving the state is due to high insurance premiums, so any answer to that threat should directly address the costs of insurance premiums.

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