Edwards Unveils Plan To Limit Malpractice Lawsuits
Presidential candidate and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) on Monday during a webcast forum in Washington, D.C., organized by Families USA and the Federation of American Hospitals discussed proposals to limit medical malpractice lawsuits without merit and provide universal health coverage, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports.
During the forum, Edwards said that the "bulk of the problem is created when cases are filed in the legal system that should never be filed." He said that the "results are years of litigation and costs that are incurred by the health care provider that should not have been incurred," adding that a "lot of that responsibility goes to the lawyers."
According to Edwards, attorneys who seek to file malpractice lawsuits should have to obtain certification by two experts to prove that their cases have merit. In the event that attorneys fail to obtain certification, they, not patients, should have to cover the related legal costs, Edwards said. In the event that attorneys fail to obtain certification three times, they should lose the ability to file future malpractice lawsuits, he added.
Edwards said that addressing malpractice likely would not significantly reduce health care costs. He also said he wanted to "push back some on what I think is mostly insurance company-driven hysteria because I think the reality is that the cost associated with legal cases is well under 1% of our legal system."
Edwards during the forum also announced a proposal to improve HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. The proposal includes age-appropriate sex education, needle exchange programs and Medicaid expansions to cover HIV patients before they develop later-stage disabilities and AIDS.
In addition, the proposal would provide $50 billion over five years for HIV/AIDS treatment and re-assessing whether to use World Health Organization, rather than FDA, standards to allow new AIDS medications to reach the market earlier (Lowy, AP/Long Island Newsday, 9/25).
According to Edwards' campaign Web site, the funding would be used to provide preventive and treatment drugs for HIV/AIDS, as well as malaria and tuberculosis (Edwards Web site, 9/25). He said, "I do believe it (HIV/AIDS) is a crisis in America" (AP/Long Island Newsday, 9/25).
Edwards also discussed his proposal for universal health coverage, noting similarities with the recently-released plan from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). He said, "I think ... this is a good thing that we're having a debate about health care, universal health care, and the differences between the major candidates are fairy nuanced."
Though Edwards "found few differences between the policy agendas," he discussed how "he would take a vastly different tack from Clinton in working to implement his health care overhaul plan." according to CQ Today. He said, "Clinton appears to believe that ... you can take money from health insurance and drug company lobbyists and sit down at the table with them and negotiate a compromise," adding, "I absolutely reject that ... classic inside Washington way of thinking."
According to Edwards, health care reform should involve efforts to convince residents of "the rightness of the substance of what you want to do." He added, "And that's the way we drive through the entrenched interests of insurance companies and drug companies and lobbyists that are a huge obstacle for reform." Edwards said that as president he would submit a health care proposal to Congress on his first or second day in office (Horrigan, CQ Today, 9/24).
In related news, Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of John Edwards, in an interview with the New York Daily News published on Tuesday said that Clinton failed in her effort to expand health insurance to all residents in 1994 because the administration of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, lacked the "stick-to-it-iveness, the determination to get it done when there was opposition both from the Republicans and from the entrenched insurance interests."
Elizabeth Edwards said, "It failed when the Clinton administration ... said, 'We're not going to use any more political capital on this, on the fight for universal health care.' And that's an important part that Sen. Clinton leaves out." She added that Clinton is "wrong on how it is we get universal health care -- and her own experience should have taught her that." Clinton's campaign declined to respond to Edwards' comments (Katz, New York Daily News, 9/25).