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Medical Liability System 'Irrational,' AMA Chair Tells Congress

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, January 27, 2011

"We've got good pilot studies on this. Look what happened in California," Hoven says. Changes have proven to be "cost effective. This stuff really works. I think that is the environment we find ourselves in right now. There is good documentation now. They cannot fly in the face of facts."

It's interesting scenario, this politics business, the shifting of positions, aiming for a middle ground, finding a piece of the "puzzle," as she calls it. But that's some of the very reason the AMA had been criticized over time, in part, for what some described as limp support of healthcare reform and its failure to win concessions in areas such as the "doc fix."

"The AMA was on record from the get-go with healthcare reform that medical liability reform be part of the whole thing," Hoven says. "It has to be part of it. You can't separate this and do carve-outs and make it all work together."

Many have thought meaningful medical liability reform should have been part of the healthcare reform issue, as well, and there has been too much tepidness on the part of physician representatives, the AMA included.

With her testimony before Congress, the AMA sees its move toward medical liability reform as happening at the right time and place.

Although Republicans are interested in dismantling healthcare reform, generally, Hoven concedes that medical liability reform "can be dealt with as a stand-alone, in some ways that's better. When you try to bind this in, I'm afraid it could get buried in something or marginalized. The administration has gone on record in supporting medical liability reform."

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