Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry supports "meaningful but enactable" medical malpractice liability reform, said one of the Massachusetts senator's healthcare advisers during a Washington panel discussion today on healthcare as a campaign issue.
Kerry would focus on preventing medical errors and promoting patient safety but would require that malpractice claims be reviewed by medical specialists to ensure that a "reasonable grievance exists," said Chris Jennings, president of Washington-based Jennings Policy Strategies.
According to Jennings, who was an adviser to President Clinton and now serves as an unpaid adviser to the Kerry campaign, lawyers who brought three frivolous medical malpractice claims would be barred from bringing further claims, while mediation rather than litigation would be an option for all medical malpractice claims.
In addition, punitive damages would be barred in medical malpractice cases except those involving "reckless indifference to life."
Another speaker, Megan Hauck, deputy policy director for the Bush-Cheney campaign, also called for medical malpractice reform. "Medical liability is the largest cost in the healthcare system," Hauck said. President Bush has repeatedly called for significant changes in medical malpractice liability, including caps on noneconomic damages.
The Washington-based Alliance for Health Reform and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation sponsored the panel discussion.