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David Mittleman
David Mittleman
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Health Care Bills Must Maintain Focus on Reducing Injury, Not Reducing Patients' Rights

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In his speech to the joint session of Congress, President Obama hinted that he would consider approaching the issue of medical malpractice liability to show he is willing to compromise with conservatives. That this issue continues to dominate public opinion, even as experts such as physician and law professor William Sage from the University of Texas produce studies showing that only 1% of the nation’s of the nation’s $2.5 trillion health tab is directly attributable to the malpractice system, shows how distorted public opinion has become thanks to the conservative media machine.

President Obama’s plan highlighted three major goals: (1) Put "patient safety first and work to reduce preventable injuries"; (2) promote better communication between doctors and patients and make sure patients are compensated "in a fair and timely manner for medical injuries"; and (3) reduce the number of frivolous lawsuits. The American Association for Justice was quick to point out that if the focus remains on "reducing the number of injuries, fostering better communication, compensating patients quicker, and reducing doctors’ premiums", we’re all going to benefit in the end.

Even as President Obama offers his $25 Million dollar Demonstration Project, he continues to cite the fact that malpractice premiums do not account for a large percentage of total medical costs. Nevertheless, despite overwhelming evidence that what will truly reduce health care costs in America is reducing the number of preventable medical errors (which cause between 44,000 and 98,000 deaths per year) and enhancing preventive medicine, this gesture moves us closer towards undermining the Constitution’s 7th Amendment right to a trial by jury.