(National Republican Senatorial Committee) – On the eve of the Senate Finance Committee’s vote on the Baucus health care proposal, a new report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that limiting medical malpractice lawsuits could save the government as much as $54 billion over the next 10 years.
As reported by CNN, medical malpractice “laws would lower expenditures on government programs like Medicare and Medicaid by roughly $41 billion,” while “an additional $13 billion would be gained from taxable wages over 10 years as employers reduce the amount they spend on health care.”
While Republicans have repeatedly cited medical malpractice reform as a meaningful way to reduce health care costs, the measure is largely opposed by many Senate Democrats, as well as the trial lawyers that generously line their campaign coffers. During his joint Congressional address last month, however, President Obama voiced support for the idea, saying he had “talked to enough doctors to know that defensive medicine may be contributing to unnecessary costs.”
Despite Obama’s rhetoric, however, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), a former trial lawyer himself who took nearly $1.5 million in campaign contributions from trial lawyers during the first half of 2009 alone, last month took the extraordinary step of requesting that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) remove the malpractice section from his committee’s legislation.
In 2006, Reid took to the Senate floor to deride medical malpractice as “unfounded” while citing extensively from a book entitled “The Medical Malpractice Myth.”
“While Harry Reid may claim to fight for the interests of Nevadans, it’s clear that his loyalties lie with his trial lawyer friends who have donated so generously to his political career,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) spokesman Brian Walsh.
“Over the years, Reid has repeatedly pushed the priorities of Washington special interests over his constituents at home, but polls continue to indicate this pattern of behavior is wearing thin with Silver State voters,” Walsh continued. “Unfortunately for Nevadans, Reid is unwilling to risk the financial support of trial lawyers one year before his costly re-election fight, even at the expense of enacting meaningful health care reform that would lower health care costs for the families, seniors, and small businesses in his state.”
Even former Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Howard Dean, a practicing physician and one-time Democrat presidential contender, admitted during a town hall meeting a few weeks ago that “the reason that tort reform is not in the bill is because the people who wrote it did not want to take on the trial lawyers.”