AAJ Response to President Obama’s Comments at the AMA

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For Immediate Release: June 15, 2009

Contact: Ray De Lorenzi
202-965-3500, ext. 369

AAJ Response to President Obama’s Comments at the AMA

The following is a statement from American Association for Justice President Les Weisbrod regarding President Obama’s address to the American Medical Association:

“It’s clear America’s health care system is in crisis.  Over 40 million people are without health insurance and costs are skyrocketing.  President Obama is right that health care reform is needed now and patient safety should be the top priority.

“Empirically-based practice guidelines, developed by independent experts, is an idea we can support, as long as it does not lower quality or standards of care.  Instead, these guidelines should lead to greater patient safety.

“According to the Institute of Medicine, 98,000 people die every year because of medical errors.  Eliminating these errors, not further hurting the victims of negligence, is where lawmakers should focus their attention.  By taking away the rights of people to hold wrongdoers accountable, the quality of health care will suffer tremendously.

“However, the notion that ‘defensive medicine’ is leading to higher health care costs is not supported by empirical data or academic literature.  Recent news reports, CBO and GAO analyses, and statements from administration officials have shown that physicians will over-test and over-treat purely for financial reasons, unrelated to liability concerns.

“Limiting the legal rights of injured patients will do nothing to lower health care costs or aid the uninsured.  We will work over the coming weeks and months to educate members of Congress and the administration on how to best protect victims of medical negligence.”

AAJ has developed a primer on medical negligence and the role of the civil justice system in the current health care debate.  The primer can be located at www.justice.org/medicalnegligence.

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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