The Obama administration is likely to oppose the Republican medical-malpractice legislation introduced Jan. 25, according to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Obama likely to oppose some parts of med-mal bill: Sebelius
Following her first congressional testimony on the reform law enacted in March 2010, Sebelius told reporters Thursday that the administration has not yet taken an official position on the malpractice reform bill sponsored by Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), who is a physician, and supported by the American Medical Association, but some of its central provisions are opposed by President Barack Obama.
“It has some of the provisions that the president said he would clearly not support at the end of the day,” said Sebelius, regarding the bill's creation of caps on awards for punitive damages and its “state-based framework.”
Sebelius' assessment of the bipartisan legislation may disappoint physicians and other advocates of national limits on malpractice lawsuits. They had expressed optimism that Congress would finally enact such legislation following decades of fruitless efforts after Obama voiced specific support for those types of lawsuit limits during this week's State of the Union speech. Obama said he was “willing to look at other ideas to bring down (healthcare) costs, including one that Republicans suggested last year: medical-malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits.”
Sebelius' comments were preceded at the hearing by at least one Republican repeating their longstanding assertion that Democrats ultimately would oppose a medical liability overhaul because it was opposed by one of their major donors: trial lawyers.
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