President Barack Obama’s address to the 158th annual meeting of the American Medical Association today attempted to assure doctors and their patients that his prescription for overhauling the health care system would be good for them. Obama cited the need for doctors to cut health care costs by reducing the number of unnecessary tests and procedures that are performed to reduce the risk of malpractice claims. Such reductions might require restrictions on malpractice liability to protect doctors.
“. . .The first thing we need to do is protect what’s working in our health care system. Let me repeat – if you like your health care, the only thing reform will mean is your health care will cost less. If anyone says otherwise, they are either trying to mislead you or don’t have their facts straight.
If you don’t like your health coverage or don’t have any insurance, you will have a chance to take part in what we’re calling a Health Insurance Exchange. This Exchange will allow you to one-stop shop for a health care plan, compare benefits and prices, and choose a plan that’s best for you and your family – just as federal employees can do, from a postal worker to a Member of Congress. You will have your choice of a number of plans that offer a few different packages, but every plan would offer an affordable, basic package. And one of these options needs to be a public option that will give people a broader range of choices and inject competition into the health care market so that force waste out of the system and keep the insurance companies honest.”
President Obama said that limits on medical malpractice lawsuits could be a necessary part of overhauling the nation’s ailing health care system.
“I’m not advocating caps on malpractice awards, which I personally believe can be unfair to people who’ve been wrongfully harmed, but I do think we need to explore a range of ideas about how to put patient safety first, how to let doctors focus on practicing medicine, how to encourage broader use of evidence-based guidelines,” he said