Tort Reform Battles On

Medical Malpractice Reform Efforts In Detail

In an exchange of moves and parries worthy of a swashbuckler, Tort Reform has few wins in many tries. There was the failure of federal medical liability reform in the legislature as a general bill covering all medicine. Then the reform of high risk specialties was tried. This also failed, again blocked in a Senate vote. And even an effort to reform class action suits by moving them to Federal levels from state courts failed. What's the next move?

A MSNBC article reports that the legislative coordination of the bills has problems. It is specifically raising questions about Senator Frist's effectiveness. They state that the class action lawsuit bill should have succeeded, and was agreed on in January. This article at least provides insight into what is occuring behind the curtains in tort reform.

While this struggle continues, now it appears a second front of regulatory reform is underway. The administration has accelerated a prior federal effort to argue against suits of FDA approved drugs and devices. Recent articles report that the administration argues that if consumers can sue manufacturers it would undermine public health and second guess the FDA. This has produced some victories, and represents a new front in the battle.

It is clear that even with a republican majority in both houses, and a republican president, this is a very hard fight. Some specialty societies like the AANS (American Association of Neurological Surgeons) are raising more money than ever. An allegiance of a number of speciality societies, DMLR (Doctors for Medical Liabilty Reform) has selected four states, and is running TV spots including 20 minutes advertisements to educate the public on the problems. They hope to influence the makeup of Congress to make reform possible.

Meanwhile Senator Kerryhas said he would be effective in tort reform. The effort seems to be ramping up, but the way to win is more difficult to see.