Tort reform would reduce deficit by $54 billion over 10 years

That’s the finding of the Congressional Budget Office in work requested by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

Tort reform is currently being ignored in the health care insurance reform debate being led by Democrats.

Here’s the CBO letter to Hatch. Here’s Hatch’s press release on the issue.

For comparison, the Baucus mark in the Senate was estimated to save $81 billion over approximately the same time period.

Do you think MSNBC will pick up on Hatch’s news? The Senate will actually consider the additional reduction to the deficit?

Imagine how much the cost of health care would decrease. As usual, there are some who disagree.


  1. The Lorax says:

    did you typo the title, because $54 million is pretty paltry.

  2. I sure did. I’ll get it fixed. Sure will mess up the SEO, though!

    update – Ahah! I pinged again. Maybe that will help.

  3. The Lorax says:

    You know, I wouldn’t mind having a conversation about tort reform as common law has been one of my primary interests since I was 14.

    You want to put caps on awards, or what? And how much for the cap?

  4. Norris Hall says:

    Finally Conservatives are coming around. Many of us have always believed that greed is one of the factors that make our healthcare system the most expensive in the world.. Government has a place in keeping businesses…lawyers, drug companies, doctors, insurance companies…from making excessive profits off of people who can least afford it.

    It’s nice to see that Republicans agree that government intervention on behalf of consumers is not only necessary…it is also good.

    If we can put arbitrary caps on jury awards, we can put those same caps on the profits that drug companies, hospitals, doctors and insurance companies make.

    That’s real health care reform…and real cost savings

  5. Mr. Hall, I can’t say I’ve ever thought of it in those terms, but I also can’t say your logic offends me. This debate should be about the cost of health care, not about the cost of insurance. I may have to concede the right for doctors, drug companies and hospitals to set their own profit goals if I want this problem solved.

    The only real change (besides billions of dollars in tax and spend) I see in these proposals is that every one, no matter what, should be party of the health care insurance pool. The logic behind that, at least what I’ve read, is that more healthy insured will drive down the cost of insurance for all.

    Again, the focus is on insurance, not on health care.

    It still blows me away that I can get an explanation of benefits from my health insurance company detailing that the doctor billed around $950 for a mostly routine visit, they paid by contract a little over $350, and our copay is $40. Did I mention the doctor hung around a little over 10 minutes?

  6. Norris Hall says:

    Cindy:My wife and I are in our 60’s
    We are self employed
    My wife has a pacemaker
    I am in good health
    We have Blue Shield
    The most affordable policy we could find at our age was their PPO 4000/8000 plan
    Our monthly premiums are $915 per month..
    Our deductible is $8000 per year per person.
    So basically we are “self insured” since we have to spend $11,000 on insurance and $8000 for deductibles before our insurance kicks i.
    I’ve tried everything I can think of to get our premiums down. Even looked into a small group plan.

    It’s gotten to the point that we’ve started going abroad for medical care
    For the past 4 years we’ve been saving up all our medical and dental problems and making a 3 week visit to a Thai hospital where the care is excellent and the cost…just a fraction of what I would have to pay out of pocket in the US. For example, last November I had an Endoscopic balloon dilation for a condition known as dysphagia. The specialist in the US said the operation would cost me $2500. (His bill for the 15 minute consultation was $250.) I decided to wait until I got to Thailand and had it done in at Chulalonkorn public hospital…cost $100 including biopsy, (all I needed for ID was my US passport. No questions asked!!)

    So in this case US medical care is 25 times more expensive than Thailand.
    Even after the $1000 round trip airfare I came out ahead.

    Go figure


    It is my understanding that TORT REFORM proposes to set limits a patient can recover in court from a physician/hospital who is guilty of medical malpractice. Negligent is more appropriate than guilty. The limits would apply in the federal law in federal courts.

    Not having been a medical malpractice Attorney but an experienced personal injury trial Attorney, these are my inquiries.

    1.Will the federal law rule or control the state law ?

    2. What happens to medical mediation panels ?

    3. Are insurance companies to be bound by the federal law in tort reform ? And, will there be a limit on jury awards ? Punitive damages ?


    When the insurance money runs out who pays the medical bills if there limits ?

    Do the limits also apply in wrongful death cases ?

  9. Michael Kirsch, M.D says:

    I think that the CBO .5% estimate of medical malpractice costs is too low. How can you measure vague and indirect costs of defensive medicine? Even the ordering physician may not know if a test if purely defensive or purely for a patient since both reasons may be present. The defensive tests that we physicians order are always justified by some medical reason. In other words, if a patient with abdominal pain is scheduled for an unnecessary MRI, the medical chart won’t reflect that his is a defensive test. The benefits of tort reform transcend financial savings. They bring fairness to a system that has abused the medical profession for decades. I’ve been an innocent victim. What do doctors think? See under Legal Quality category.

  10. Dick: 1.Will the federal law rule or control the state law ?

    As I understand it, Torts occur only on the state level since they depend on state standards, etc. The federal government doesn’t deal with tort issues. So, the long answer to your question is yes.

    It becomes a States’ Rights issue then, in my opinion. Putting broad caps on is not really fair. $100,000 in Massachusetts just ain’t the same as it is in Wyoming. At the same time, the prevailing common law of each state differs widely.

  11. Also, I just remembered that you can bring a tort in federal court, but it’s only when you are bringing suit against the federal government. It’s not common, i’ve heard.