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Confronting the New Health Care Crisis: Improving Health Care Quality and Lowering Costs By Fixing Our Medical Liability System

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With rapidly rising health care costs, reforms are needed to make high-quality, affordable health care more widely available. A critical element for providing real relief for both patients and physicians is comprehensive reform of our current medical liability system. Multimillion-dollar judgments have steadily increased insurance premiums for many specialty areas and prompted many physicians to engage in "defensive medicine". As a result, for many states, there have been significant reductions in quality and access to care for many Americans because doctors are forced to move, retire, or restrict their practices. Some states have already taken the initiative and reformed their own medical malpractice systems by capping non-economic damages to $250,000 and $350,000. Over time, this has resulted in comparatively smaller increases in physician's insurance premiums and more reliable access to care and services for the patients who reside in those states. Further federal and state action is currently being sought, through legislative action, to expand such provisions and standards across the nation. [29 PDF pages]