Let’s just get that out of the way. Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, arguing against capping malpractice awards, just said doing so would cut only about 1/5 of 1% of health spending. The Congressional Budget Office said in October it could save 0.5% of spending. Either way, it’s not the sole reason the U.S. health care system is growing at an unsustainable rate. That said, it’s part of the reason, which is why most health care economists I talk to favor malpractice reform.
But it’s important to understand the complexity of malpractice insurance and malpractice reform. It’s not just about the trial lawyer’s lobby and defensive medicine. And there are ways to reform the malpractice system without capping punitive damages at $250,000, which Republicans favor. Here’s what I wrote about malpractice reform for the magazine back in September.