In a letter signed by the American Medical Association, 53 medical specialty groups, and 44 state medical associations and the Medical Society of the District of Columbia, physicians requested: a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages; a prohibition on new guidelines or standards contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act creating new “causes of action” against healthcare providers; protections for providers who give emergency or voluntary disaster care; and standards of experience and knowledge for individuals acting as expert witnesses in a malpractice case.
“Reforming our costly, inefficient and unfair liability system will save American taxpayers billions of dollars while protecting patient access to care,” the letter stated. “This package of reforms would save taxpayers money while simultaneously improving our healthcare and legal systems.”
The letter also cited Congressional Budget Office estimates that medical liability reform would reduce the federal budget deficit by $62.4 billion over 10 years. The letter expressed support for reforms enacted in California and Texas—which included caps on noneconomic damages.
In a letter signed by the Association of American Medical Colleges, American Hospital Association, Federation of American Hospitals and Catholic Health Association, as well as the AMA and several other physician organizations, the deficit reduction committee was asked to consider the long-term impact of reducing the national “investment” in physician training versus any short-term savings that would be realized in cutting funding to medical residency programs.
“We understand that everyone must do their part to reduce costs, but funding for physician training has been disproportionately targeted, in our opinion, at a time of unprecedented need,” the letter stated. “Reducing our national deficit is important, but threatening access to care for millions of current and future patients is not the appropriate mechanism to achieve true savings.”
The letter also mentioned how the AAMC projects a shortage of 130,600 physicians by 2025; and, while new medical schools have been built and existing schools expanded, the current cap on Medicare funding for graduate medical education prevents new hospitals from establishing teaching programs.
Some in Congress, meanwhile, are using the committee’s deliberations as another opportunity to push a rollback of the Affordable Care Act.
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), a physician whose district starts northwest of Dallas and goes north to the Oklahoma border, has suggested the committee target the law’s expansion of Medicaid and its subsidies for insurance premiums and health insurance exchanges.
“Failure to stop this spending boondoggle could imperil the benefits on which millions of Americans already depend,” Burgess wrote in an essay published in the Washington Times.