Question: We heard that the Health Care Reform law has several provisions on malpractice reform. Have those provisions been implemented?
Answer: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA”) does contemplate malpractice reform. Section 10607 of the PPACA provides for $50,000,000 to be awarded to states to develop and implement malpractice demonstrations. The demonstrations were meant to be alternatives to current tort litigation models and were to include both promotion of a reduction in medical errors and resolution of malpractice disputes. However, the distribution of these awards has been stalled by Congress’s unwillingness to fund the malpractice demonstrations. Nonetheless, some states have begun experimenting with malpractice reform. For example, Oregon is considering developing “safe harbor” legislation that would limit liability for those physicians who follow state-endorsed, evidence-based guidelines. Oregon is also studying the effects of defensive medicine and overutilization. Hospitals and health care systems are also testing ideas to reduce malpractice claims and amounts, such as the University of Michigan Health System’s disclosure program that found that there were fewer lawsuits and claims after the program was implemented. To find out more on this topic, please join Linda Haddad, Ian Donaldson and Charlie Chulack for the audio conference “Be Careful What You Ask for: Tort Reform and Malpractice Litigation” on Tuesday, March 6, 2012 from 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time.