President Obama's support for a cap on medical malpractice suits appears to have been greatly exaggerated.
Obama went before the American Medical Association in Chicago to declare anew that the existing system leaves too many uninsured and forces "excessive defensive medicine" by doctors worried about malpractice suits. He also declared once again that he does not favor socialized medicine and cautioned people to beware of "scare tactics and fear-mongering" by critics who make this claim.This is a far cry from what Sheryl Gay Stolberg reported this morning in the New York Times.
Obama also said the nation must explore ways to reduce the number of unnecessary medical tests or procedures that sometimes are conducted to stave off possible malpractice lawsuits.
And Obama said that placing caaps on malpractice awards, which many doctors want, would be unfair to patients, a statement that produced a loud boo from the audience.
The American Medical Association has long battled Democrats who oppose protecting doctors from malpractice lawsuits. But during a private meeting at the White House last month, association officials said, they found one Democrat willing to entertain the idea: President Obama.I wonder who Stolberg's anonymous sources were?
In closed-door talks, Mr. Obama has been making the case that reducing malpractice lawsuits — a goal of many doctors and Republicans — can help drive down health care costs, and should be considered as part of any health care overhaul, according to lawmakers of both parties, as well as A.M.A. officials.
It is a position that could hurt Mr. Obama with the left wing of his party and with trial lawyers who are major donors to Democratic campaigns. But one Democrat close to the president said Mr. Obama, who wants health legislation to have broad support, views addressing medical liability issues as a “credibility builder” — in effect, a bargaining chip that might keep doctors and, more important, Republicans, at the negotiating table.