Dec 07 2009

Graham, Chambliss Address Medical Malpractice with ‘Loser Pays’ Amendment

WASHINGTON – United States Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia) last week introduced their ‘Loser Pays’ legislation as an amendment to the health care bill.  The amendment would decrease the number of frivolous lawsuits that increase the cost of medical care for all Americans. 


“Reform of medical malpractice is one of the key, missing ingredients from the health care reform proposals being debated in Congress,” said Senator Graham  “A ‘Loser Pays’ system is one of the best devices available to prevent frivolous lawsuits from costing all of us.  When both parties in a lawsuit are subject to financial penalty, people think longer and harder about bringing a questionable case forward.  Most western nations already have a ‘Loser Pays’ rule, and it is time our own country adopts this concept.  The Senate debate on health care is among the most important debates we have had.  I hope we have a chance to vote on our important amendment.” 


“Necessary for any reform proposal to our nation’s health care system is the inclusion of a ‘loser pays’ system for medical malpractice suits,” said Chambliss. “Deterring frivolous lawsuits reduces health care costs for all Americans. We can preserve a fair legal process while eliminating the presence of questionable lawsuits that are currently clogging our judicial system.” 


In a letter of support to the Senators, the United States Chamber of Commerce stated the provision, “represents a positive and significant step toward providing a more reliable justice system for the victims of medical malpractice.”  The Chamber noted that the amendment “encourages the states to establish alternative methods for resolving medical liability claims and provides them with the latitude to develop unique approaches that fit the needs of their diverse populations.” 


Graham-Chambliss ‘Loser Pays’ amendment would create a system of preliminary, non-binding arbitration for medical malpractice claims before they ever enter a courtroom.  If one or both of the parties involved rejects the arbitrator’s decision, they can take the claim to court but are then subject to the ‘Loser Pays’ rule.  Additionally, states will have the option to create their own alternative dispute resolution system, with the freedom to tailor procedures as they see fit.