Another State of the
Union Address 
has come and gone and there is once again a
sense of excitement in the air. In this year’s address, the President stated,
"I am willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, including one
that Republicans suggested last year – medical malpractice reform to rein in
frivolous lawsuits."

Is President Obama truly serious this time about
taking another look at medical malpractice reform? CALA has long stated that to
reform healthcare and not look at medical malpractice reform or defensive
medicine is just to completely miss the point. These areas have to be reformed
when tackling the issue of healthcare reform.

Lo and behold, here comes H.R. 5., the HEALTH Act of 2011. This
bill by Rep. John Gingrey (R-GA) will give the President the opportunity to
back up his words with action. It contains, among many things, a cap of
$250,000 on non-economic damages, which is similar to a reform we have in California
that the trial lawyers cannot stand. H.R. 5 even puts caps on contingency fees
and eliminates punitive damages for products that meet FDA standards.

H.R. 5 will certainly not please the Consumer
Attorneys of California, and could not have come at a worse time for
them. Just when they were contemplating trying to tear down MICRA, California’s landmark medical
malpractice reform law, H.R. 5 will command their attention at the national

The MICRA law in California has kept insurance costs
down, increased access for millions of patients to doctors, nurses
and healthcare workers, and saved the average Californian family hundreds
of dollars on health care.

Only time
will tell whether the President is serious about medical malpractice reform or
not. The reforms you see in H.R. 5 have been proven to work. I know the
President is not crazy about caps, but he would be wise to take a serious
look at how they have worked in California and Texas. If he does, signing H.R.
5 will be an easy decision.  Cross posted at