AAJ Outlines Solutions for Real Health Care Reform

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For Immediate Release: September 9, 2009

Contact: Ray De Lorenzi
202-965-3500, ext. 369
media.replies@justice.org

AAJ Outlines Solutions for Real Health Care Reform

Tort reform should not be focus of debate

Washington, DC—Continuing to push back against the rhetoric and mistruths in the health care debate, the American Association for Justice (AAJ) today outlined three pillars of its efforts to educate lawmakers and the public on real solutions for reform.

“Over the last month, there has been a great deal of empty rhetoric, mistruths and outright lies about health care reform,” said AAJ President Anthony Tarricone.  “Limiting the legal rights of patients will do nothing to cover the uninsured or lower health care costs.  Patients’ rights are not bargaining chips.”

In a conference call with reporters, Tarricone outlined three pillars to AAJ’s efforts:

(1) Our country is in desperate need of health care reform, and we must pass a bill that lowers costs and covers the uninsured.  It is clear our health care system is in crisis.  We fully support the efforts underway to fix health care and bring health and economic security to millions of Americans.  Trial attorneys are small businesses as well.  We struggle every day to provide health insurance to our own employees.  Reforming health care is in everyone’s best interest.

(2) The health care bill must reduce medical errors.  According to the Institute of Medicine, 98,000 people die every year from preventable medical errors – and this number doesn’t include those seriously injured.  This is the sixth leading cause of death in America, equivalent to two 737s crashing every day.  Trial attorneys see first-hand the effects medical errors have on patients and their families.  The best way to have fewer medical malpractice cases is to reduce the number of medical errors.  If less people need to seek legal recourse, that means patients are getting safer.  Patients that are safer also means lower costs to the health care system.  Everyone can support this.

(3) The health care bill cannot limit the legal rights of injured patients.  Patients’ rights cannot be used as bargaining chips or compromised.  This is why decreasing medical errors is a critical pillar of our efforts, as it will not only decrease the amount of malpractice, but more importantly, keep patients safer.

Last week, AAJ formally released an analysis of scholarly research showing that arguments about medical malpractice and health care costs have been thoroughly debunked by new data.  The analysis highlights how new proposals to promote patient safety will have more cost savings than expensive, bureaucratic experiments like health courts.  In addition, recent data shows the number of physicians is at an all-time high; rejecting anecdotes that the civil justice system has driven doctors out of business.

The analysis also demonstrates how reducing preventable medical errors is a direct way to improve the current health care system.  According to the Institute of Medicine, preventable medical errors kill as many as 98,000 people every year, the nation’s sixth leading cause of death. 

The primer is available online at www.justice.org/medicalnegligence.

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As the world's largest trial bar, the American Association for Justice (formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) works to make sure people have a fair chance to receive justice through the legal system when they are injured by the negligence or misconduct of others—even when it means taking on the most powerful corporations. Visit http://www.justice.org/newsroom.

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