Is Obama serious about medical malpractice reform?

Or is it a red herring?

President Obama is making a much-ballyhooed address to the American Medical Association today (and will be live-Tweeted over at MedPage Today), and perhaps not coincidentally, there’s a piece in today’s New York Times saying that Obama himself is one of the few supporters willing to address the issue of malpractice reform.

According to the piece, “In closed-door talks, Mr. Obama has been making the case that reducing malpractice lawsuits — a goal of many doctors and Republicans — can help drive down health care costs, and should be considered as part of any health care overhaul, according to lawmakers of both parties, as well as A.M.A. officials.”

If there’s one viable crumb to throw along physicians’ way, it’s malpractice reform. As I’ve mentioned before, the AMA’s stance of tying adherence to evidence-based medicine to liability protection is a smart one, and a view that will be better accepted than hard malpractice caps. After all, if policy experts want doctors to change their behavior, removing the threat of a baseless lawsuit is a good way of doing so.

Of course, this needs to be paired with reimbursement reform, which I suspect, won’t go over as well with the AMA delegates. But if the President is going to get their attention, supporting malpractice reform is the best way to do so.

Thanks to Forbes for quoting this blog entry in their piece, Will Doctors Buy ObamaCare?

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