Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) has drawn on his medical expertise — he’s an orthopedic surgeon — to become an effective Republican voice on health care legislation. Today he spoke on a conference call with some bloggers, and we had the opportunity to pose a question about the absence of medical malpractice limits from the bills currently being debated.
Senator Barrasso noted that his fellow Wyoming Senator, Mike Enzi, had sought to amend the Senate bill in the HELP Committee, where Enzi is the ranking minority member. Barrasso:
[We] all believe that there are so many tests ordered that don’t really help an individual get better but help a doctor avoid a suit that’s very costly, it’s probably hundreds of billions of dollars, different estimates out there…. [Sen.] Enzi brought in an amendment, and he just wanted to put in a pilot project to take a look at some different ways to deal with liability. And even the pilot project was defeated in the HELP Committee
When the President went to the American Medical Association and said we need tort reform, and he got a big cheer, and then he said, but I don’t mean caps, and then there were boos – there’s nothing in any of these bills, not the Finance Committee bill that they’re working on, not the House bill or not the Senate bill — the Senate HELP Committee bill – that in any talks about what everyone knows is a major cost of wasteful spending in the American health care system.
To just ignore that to me is the President just paying lip service to it, but not really in any way wanting it done.
When I tell people that they ought to read the bill, they ought not read the bills to see what’s in the bill, but they’ve got to think what things are not included in the bill. There’s nothing in any of these bills that deal with lawsuit abuse.
Senator Enzi issued a news release on July 9, “Democrats Reject Enzi Proposal to Cut Health Care Costs
by Reducing Frivolous Lawsuits.” The amendment tracked with a bill he and Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) introduced in 2007, S. 1481, the Fair and Reliable Medical Justice Act.
(Barrasso sound clip.)
UPDATE (4:15 p.m.): Here’s the entire blogger call, .mp3 file.
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