HHS today began an "Early Offers" pilot program to reduce the number of medical malpractice claims filed against the agency.
Under the program, a person who has filed a legal claim against HHS can make an offer to settle within 90 days after HHS has informed them it has received the claim. HHS has 90 days also to offer a settlement. Offers will be made to an independent third party. If both parties make an offer and HHS' is equal to or more than the offer made by the injured party, the third party will inform HHS and the patient a settlement has been reached.
The pilot program applies to patients who have been treated by employees of federally funded community health centers overseen by HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration and patients receiving care through Indian Health Service programs. Participation is voluntary.
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson said the program could serve as a potential model to bring down the number of malpractice claims and reduce medical costs.
"This is an important step in reforming our medical liability system, and we hope that other providers of care will implement a plan like Early Offers to encourage quick and fair settlements of claims for more patients," he said in a news release.