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Health Courts Would Curb 'Staggering Waste,' Attorney Says

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, October 18, 2012

A veteran advocate for government reform, Howard now embraces the challenge of changing the face of healthcare. He insists that healthcare has little choice but to move toward health courts—possibly modeled after similar programs in Europe—to reduce costs estimated at $45 billion at the very least.

"The whole point of health courts is to abandon the ad-hoc jury-by-jury approach and create a system of justice predicable from case to case," Howard tells me. "That's the only way you get rid of defensive medicine: Have written rulings by judges."

Howard says Common Good is working with the Harvard School of Public Health and has received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to advance the project. He also says the concept is increasingly drawing attention because of the necessity to deal with "out-of-control costs."

Despite their differences over healthcare reform, both President Obama and his GOP challenger, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney have endorsed such proposals, the first presidential candidates to do so, according to Howard.

In a letter to bipartisan leadership of the House in 2010, Obama wrote that his healthcare reforms included a provision "that authorizes funding to states for demonstrations of alternatives to resolving medical malpractice disputes, including health courts." Obama said bills were sponsored in the House and Senate for demonstration projects of the proposals.

In a commentary this year in USA Today, Romney stressed the need for malpractice reforms.  "We need to address out-of-control medical malpractice litigation, which is costly not only in direct terms but also in its distortion of the way patient care is administered," the presidential candidate wrote. "We can start by capping non-economic damages, but the federal government should also encourage states to pursue additional reforms such as specialized health care courts."

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9 comments on "Health Courts Would Curb 'Staggering Waste,' Attorney Says"


Marcos A. Vargas, MSHA, PA-C (7/5/2013 at 1:32 PM)
Mr. Tyco Brade post is erroneous & nonfactual or non evidence-based. Why? because the literature (surveys,research, analyses) allways point to the fact that defensive medicne is practiced by over 75% (up to 97%)of physicians in our country. And those are the facts and not skewed opinions.But then again most people don't fact check their informational sources.

Thomas Cox (12/1/2012 at 1:12 PM)
Virginia has had the strictest medical malpractice tort reform in the country since 1976 and it has helped hold malpractice premiums down, but health care costs in Virginia have increased at the same rate as everywhere else in the country. I am not against tort reform that makes for a quicker, fairer, and less expensive process, but don't look to tort reform to reduce the cost of health care. The evidence of the real world does not support this theory.

Michele (10/23/2012 at 9:11 AM)
There have been NO reductions in healthcare costs in states that have enacted tort reform. As a matter of fact, Texas has the most dilligent tort reform and they have the second highest healthcare costs in the nation according to CMS. Why don't individuals that want national tort reform respond to this?? Where is the proof????