Malpractice reform joins health system debate

Erica Werner of The Associated Press reports that Ezekiel Emanuel, a key adviser on health issues to President Obama and brother of White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, offered some hints recently about the role of malpractice lawsuit reform in the debate over changes to the country’s health care system.

Ezekiel Emanuel

Ezekiel Emanuel

At a meeting of the American Medical Association, Ezekiel Emanuel said:

“I’m not going to give you any details because I can’t. I just can tell you I’ve been thinking long and hard about that,” Emanuel, an oncologist and the brother of White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, told the doctors when asked about malpractice lawsuit reform. “It hasn’t gone unnoticed. So stay tuned.”

Mary Ann Geier, organizer of Health Camp Philadelphia, posted on Twitter that she wonders what the hidden agenda is and whether it might not be incompatible with true reform. She says it’s something the average person can’t figure out. Reporters, what can you tell us?

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., has proposed developing “alternate litigation models,” similar to proposals offered by Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., says malpractice reforms are key to overhauling the health care system.

“I think it’s an essential piece for there to be enduring reform, reform that will stick and will get a significant bipartisan vote in the United States Senate,” Wyden said.

Perhaps Wyden will expand on those comments when he speaks at Health Journalism 2009 on April 17.

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