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February 10th, 2010 10:25 am
Did President Obama Lie… Again?

That’s the question Congressman Darrell  Issa (R-CA) is hoping to get answered with regard to President Obama’s promise, made during a speech before a joint session of Congress last September, to consider medical malpractice reform as a means of lowering U.S. health care costs.

During his nationally-televised September speech, Obama said:

Now, finally, many in this chamber – particularly on the Republican side of the aisle – have long insisted that reforming our medical malpractice laws can help bring down the cost of health care. … Now, I don’t believe malpractice reform is a silver bullet, but I’ve talked to enough doctors to know that defensive medicine may be contributing to unnecessary costs. So I’m proposing that we move forward on a range of ideas about how to put patient safety first and let doctors focus on practicing medicine. I know that the Bush Administration considered authorizing demonstration projects in individual states to test these ideas. I think it’s a good idea, and I’m directing my Secretary of Health and Human Services to move forward on this initiative today.”

However, according to a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee report on the benefits of capping non-economic damages and passing other tort reform measures released last week, it appears the President wasn’t being sincere when he made that directive.  The report, on page 4, reads:

Committee staff inquired of HHS whether they had an updated figure [on how much the federal government spends annually for malpractice coverage and the costs of defensive medicine], but staff was told by personnel of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation that the report in question involved medical litigation which ‘is not a priority for this Administration.’”  

“The first question I have for President Obama is if he still stands by his call for tort reform or was he just lying to Congress when he directed Secretary [Kathleen] Sebelius to pursue an initiative addressing the costs of defensive medicine,” Issa, who is the ranking Republican on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in a statement released Monday. 

With all due respect Congressman, do you even have to ask?  The President’s commitment to meaningful tort reform is about as sincere as his commitment to bipartisanship.  Both are simply “not a priority for this Administration.”

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