The Truth About Health Care and Tort Reform, Part I

Preface: As the fight for health care reform heats up this year, we’re going to be hearing a lot about “tort reform.” Just as “tax cuts” are the Right’s one-size-fits-all answer to all economic problems, “tort reform” is the Right’s favorite magic bullet for fixing the health care crisis.


Very generally, tort reform refers to a range of legal measures that limit the ability of an individual to sue for damages for personal injury. For example, tort reform laws may place limitations on jury awards and attorney’s fees or raise the burden of proof needed to win a case.

This post is the first of a series looking at real-world results of tort reform in several states. I also want to investigate what impact malpractice litigation really might have on health care, either cost or quality. Other questions: What’s really making health care costs go up? What percentage of malpractice suits turn out to be frivolous? Who’s behind the “tort reform” movement?

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