WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) today issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s recent comments on the importance of addressing medical malpractice lawsuits as part of comprehensive health care reform.  Senator Gregg has long been an advocate for reducing frivolous lawsuits that can cause physicians nationwide to charge higher fees, order unnecessary procedures out of fear of being sued, or go out of practice all together. 

Senator Gregg stated, “President Obama’s interest in reducing frivolous malpractice lawsuits as a cost savings mechanism is an important element to reforming our nation’s broken health care system.  Although the President’s opposition to capping malpractice awards is disappointing, I welcome his potential willingness to finding a solution to the medical liability crisis that I have long tried to reform in order to provide better and less expensive health care for patients throughout the country. 

“According to the American Medical Association, medical liability costs are passed along to patients in this country at a price tag as high as $151 billion each year.  These costs are both expensive and unnecessary.  However, trial lawyers, who give lavishly to liberal members of Congress, have always been given a free pass to go after doctors more for the benefit of their wallets than the patient in question.  These unreasonable lawsuits have pushed doctors out of practice, especially those in critical need such as physicians who deliver babies and practice medicine in economically underserved areas, due to the ridiculously high cost of malpractice insurance and the very real threat of being sued.  Reducing access to care for those who need it most is irresponsible and unfair.

“I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on comprehensive health care reform to ensure all Americans have meaningful health insurance, and I remain committed to seeing that doctors are able to spend their time caring for patients rather than being tied up in the courtroom.”

Senator Gregg is an original cosponsor of Senator John Ensign’s legislation, the Medical Care Access Protection Act of 2009, which would provide comprehensive medical liability reform with nationwide standards of care and reasonable limits on pain, suffering and non-compensatory damages.  Last Congress, Senator Gregg also authored legislation, the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Access to Care Act, to provide similar relief to obstetricians who are particularly challenged by malpractice liability