“In his speech tonight, the president shouldn’t forget tort reform.” (John Avlon of the Manhattan Institute, City Journal).
P.S. Maybe he was listening. In his speech tonight, Obama made a non-trivial gesture toward critics’ views on the subject, acknowledging that defensive medicine drives up costs and “prompting an eruption of applause from Republicans at Wednesday’s joint session of Congress.” [UPI]. From the same article:
“I know that the (George W.) Bush administration considered authorizing demonstration projects in individual states to test these issues,” Obama said. “It’s a good idea, and I am directing my Secretary of Health and Human Services (Kathleen Sebelius) to move forward on this initiative.”
Some reactions: Dr. Wes notices language recycled from the med-mal plan championed earlier by then-Sen. Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) My reaction? I think trying a bunch of demonstration projects to see how they work is actually one of the better reform ideas at the federal level, but obviously a great deal depends on how the demonstration projects are picked and designed. Projects might be selected from a list of ideas pre-vetted for acceptability to the litigation lobby, or at worst might even be designed to fail. I agree with Ron Miller: when it comes to actual policy, “Let’s just say President Obama is keeping his options open.” (bumped Thurs. a.m.)
And more: okay, maybe I gave the President too much credit above on having acknowledged the costs of defensive medicine: his exact wording was “defensive medicine may be contributing to unnecessary costs” (emphasis added). Ramesh Ponnuru: “A demonstration project for med-mal reform — don’t we already have one, called Texas?” Carter Wood notes that demonstration projects on med-mal reform have been shot down by Congressional Democrats in recent years. Dan Pero calls the gesture an “olive twig“. And from commenter Jack Wilson: “How come tort reform is the only part of this plan that needs to go through a demonstration project?”