Edwards To Address Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

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Medical 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 Newsdayreports. During the forum, Edwards said that the "bulk of the problemis created when cases are filed in the legal system that should neverbe filed." He said that the "results are years of litigation and coststhat are incurred by the health care provider that should not have beenincurred," adding that a "lot of that responsibility goes to thelawyers."

According to Edwards, attorneys who seek to filemalpractice lawsuits should have to obtain certification by two expertsto prove that their cases have merit. In the event that attorneys failto obtain certification, they, not patients, should have to cover therelated legal costs, Edwards said. In the event that attorneys fail toobtain certification three times, they should lose the ability to filefuture malpractice lawsuits, he added.

Edwards said thataddressing malpractice likely would not significantly reduce healthcare costs. He also said he wanted to "push back some on what I thinkis mostly insurance company-driven hysteria because I think the realityis that the cost associated with legal cases is well under 1% of ourlegal system."

HIV/AIDS Proposal

Edwards duringthe forum also announced a proposal to improve HIV/AIDS prevention andtreatment. The proposal includes age-appropriate sex education, needleexchange programs and Medicaid expansions to cover HIV patients beforethey develop later-stage disabilities and AIDS. In addition, theproposal would provide $50 billion over five years for HIV/AIDStreatment 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 forHIV/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/LongIsland Newsday, 9/25).

Plan for Universal Coverage

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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 havinga debate about health care, universal health care, and the differencesbetween 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 toimplement his health care overhaul plan." according to CQ Today.He said, "Clinton appears to believe that ... you can take money fromhealth insurance and drug company lobbyists and sit down at the tablewith them and negotiate a compromise," adding, "I absolutely rejectthat ... classic inside Washington way of thinking."

Accordingto Edwards, health care reform should involve efforts to convinceresidents of "the rightness of the substance of what you want to do."He added, "And that's the way we drive through the entrenched interestsof insurance companies and drug companies and lobbyists that are a hugeobstacle for reform." Edwards said that as president he would submit ahealth care proposal to Congress on his first or second day in office(Horrigan, CQ Today, 9/24).

Elizabeth Edwards

In related news, Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of John Edwards, in an interview with the New York Daily Newspublished on Tuesday said that Clinton failed in her effort to expandhealth insurance to all residents in 1994 because the administration ofher husband, former President Bill Clinton, lacked the"stick-to-it-iveness, the determination to get it done when there wasopposition both from the Republicans and from the entrenched insuranceinterests."

Elizabeth Edwards said, "It failed when theClinton administration ... said, 'We're not going to use any morepolitical capital on this, on the fight for universal health care.' Andthat's an important part that Sen. Clinton leaves out." She added thatClinton is "wrong on how it is we get universal health care -- and herown experience should have taught her that." Clinton's campaigndeclined to respond to Edwards' comments (Katz, New York Daily News, 9/25).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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