With President Obama opening the door a crack to tort reform as part of a health care overhaul, the nation's trial lawyers are trying to slam it shut again.
The American Association for Justice announced today it is launching what it called the first phase of a nationwide ad campaign "to educate lawmakers about the epidemic of preventable medical errors and how tort law changes won’t lower costs or cover the uninsured."
The ads, running in Washington publications and on online news sites, say the estimated 98,000 deaths from preventable medical errors is “like two 737s crashing every day for a whole year.”
But the ad concludes: “Would we blame the passengers or the airlines?”
The group, formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, also has a website on the issue.
“Our health care system is clearly broken, and if we are serious about improving it, we need to fix preventable medical errors,” AAJ President Anthony Tarricone said in a statement. “This new ad campaign gives Congress 98,000 reasons why they should put patients’ health first – before the profits of insurance companies. If we work to improve our health care system and reduce medical errors – rather than strip people of their rights – there would be far fewer victims that need legal recourse.”
Obama, in his speech to Congress earlier this month, said while he didn't see malpractice reform as a "silver bullet," he was open to looking at ways to decrease "defensive medicine," when doctors order extra tests and procedures to avoid malpractice lawsuits.
Last week, the White House followed up by announcing $25 million in grants to help states and health care systems test models designed to compensate patients for malpractice but also reduce frivolous lawsuits and lower insurance premiums paid by doctors.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.