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Seven consumer groups have joined together to run an ad urging Congress to oppose including medical malpractice limits as part of health care reform. The groups include Alliance for Justice, Public Citizen, Consumer Watchdog, National Consumers League, Center for Justice & Democracy, National Research Center for Women & Families, National Women’s Health Network and National Research Center for Women & Families.

The ad, which ran yesterday, can be found here or

The groups offered a variety of comments in support of running the ad:

"America is suffering from an epidemic of medical errors," said David Arkush, a program director at Public Citizen. "Reducing medical errors is not difficult, and it would save scores of thousands of lives and billions of dollars. If Congress wants to serve the American public rather than special interest groups like doctors and insurance companies, then it should focus on improving patient safety, not stripping patients of their legal rights."

"Innocent Americans injured by cost-cutting hospitals and negligent doctors should not be a political sacrifice in the quest for health care reform," said Carmen Balber, Washington Director for Consumer Watchdog. "State malpractice damage caps and other limits on liability for negligent health care providers have locked injured patients out of court, degraded the quality of health care and denied justice to too many families."

Joanne Doroshow, Executive Director of the Center for Justice & Democracy, said, "The arguments used to support liability restrictions are unfounded. Medical malpractice insurance claims and premiums have both been trending downward for years. Premiums and claims are each less than one percent of health care costs. The best way to reduce malpractice deaths, injuries, claims and lawsuits is to reduce medical malpractice."

In Utah, injured patients suffer with a general damages cap but it is not as onerous as some. Over time, the cap has adjusted to an amount which is better than many that stay at shockingly low amounts such as $250,000, That said, the caps have not achieved the stated goal of reigning in insurance premiums. Here, as everywhere, premiums are driven by how insurance companies do in the stock market, not by how much they pay out on claims. Let’s hope Congress gets it right on this issue.

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