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Health Courts Continue to Gain Bipartisan Support From 2012 Presidential Candidates

NEW YORK, March 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney advocated the creation of specialized health courts in an op-ed published on Thursday by USA Today. In the op-ed, Romney stated:

"Finally, we need to address out-of-control medical malpractice litigation, which is costly not only in direct terms, but also in its distortion of the way patient care is administered. We can start by capping non-economic damages, but the federal government should also encourage states to pursue additional reforms such as specialized health care courts or other alternatives for resolving conflicts." 

President Obama and Newt Gingrich have both previously endorsed the creation of special health courts. In a letter to Congressional leaders released by The White House on March 2, 2010, President Obama endorsed health courts and proposed an appropriation of $50 million for demonstration grants including health courts. In an op-ed article in The New York Times on February 21, 2010, Newt Gingrich endorsed health courts.

The three 2012 presidential candidates join numerous bipartisan commissions in endorsing this common sense solution. President Obama's U.S. deficit commission – formally known as the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform – endorsed the creation of specialized health courts when a bipartisan majority of its members approved its report on December 3, 2010. Three other bipartisan commissions have also endorsed health courts: the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (at the New America Foundation); the Debt Reduction Task Force of the Bipartisan Policy Center; and Esquire magazine's Commission to Balance the Federal Budget.

Health court pilot projects have been endorsed by virtually all leading health care participants including patient safety experts, consumer groups such as AARP, medical societies and other providers.

The concept of health courts originated with, and has long been championed by, Common Good, working in conjunction with experts at the Harvard School of Public Health and with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Health courts would have judges dedicated full-time to resolving health care disputes. The judges would make written rulings to provide guidance on proper standards of care. These rulings would set precedents on which both patients and doctors could rely. As with similar administrative courts that exist in other areas of law – for tax disputes, workers' compensation and vaccine liability, among others – there would be no juries. To assure predictability and fairness, each ruling could be appealed to a new Medical Appellate Court.

"Reliable health courts hold the key to eliminating billions of dollars wasted each year in defensive medicine," said Philip K. Howard, Chair of Common Good. "Health courts are also essential to rebuilding a culture of openness needed for safe medicine. Doctors and patients both deserve a court that reliably distinguishes between good care and bad care, not today's judicial lottery. The trial lawyer lobby has so far blocked health courts, but it is impossible to manage health care sensibly when legal fear dominates the daily choices of health care delivery."

Common Good ( is a nonpartisan legal reform coalition dedicated to restoring common sense to America. The Chair of Common Good is Philip K. Howard, a lawyer and author of Life Without Lawyers and The Death of Common Sense.

SOURCE Common Good
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