Republicans press HHS on malpractice reform


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  • October 31, 2012

Three Republican Senators concerned about how grants for medical liability reform demonstration projects were spent continue to press the Department of Health and Human Services for answers – only to receive less than adequate responses.

Senators Charles Grassley and Orrin Hatch, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, originally wrote to Secretary Sebelius back in April of 2012 regarding how a $23.2 million grant intended to improve the medical liability system by protecting patients and access to care, was spent.

The letter focused on lawmakers’ concerns that the grant money was not being used for “traditional” medical liability reforms when President Obama “gave the clear impression” that funding would be used for that purpose in a 2009 speech.

When the Senators received a response nearly six months later, their questions went unanswered. So this month, they sent a second inquiry.

“We were concerned that these developments did not fulfill the president’s commitment to move forward on medical malpractice reform,” the lawmakers said in their most recent letter, dated October 16.

While “traditional” medical liability reforms are aimed at decreasing “the incidence of frivolous lawsuits, inflated awards and inflated attorneys’ fees,” the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s description of the research funded by the grants does not reference changes to medical liability laws, the Senators maintained.

Proven medical liability reforms, as these Members of Congress and many of their colleagues on both sides of the aisle support, have greatly expanded access to care in states like Mississippi, Texas and California by increasing the number of physicians, lowering health care costs, and expediting claims of deserving patients.

To read the letters sent by Senators Grassley and Hatch and Congressman Smith to the Department of Health and Human Services, click here.