Panel: Malpractice caps lower some costs

May 7, 2010

One of the major conclusions in the healthcare reform law, according to medical societies, are programs to reduce medical malpractice claims and lower liability coverage costs for physicians.

One of the major omissions in the healthcare reform law, according to medical societies, are programs to reduce medical malpractice claims and lower liability coverage costs for physicians.

State governments use eight types of tort reform techniques, but only one, a settlement cap on noneconomic damages, or "pain and suffering," has been shown to reduce average claim payments and insurance premiums, according to a report released last month by MedPAC, an independent panel that advises Congress, primarily on Medicare reimbursement rates.

Twenty-six states currently impose a cap on noneconomic damages and six cap total damages, according to the report. The panel analyzed studies on state reforms and found that a limit on noneconomic damages "modestly" improves physician supply, and reduces some defensive tests and procedures.