Lawmakers bicker over control of malpractice reform issue

As the mighty health reform package steams its way through Congress, legislators have many weighty issues to consider. One that seems to be hitting the shoals is malpractice reform, which has sparked a turf war between two powerful Senate committees.

As most readers probably know, President Obama's recent speech on healthcare didn't concede much when it came to malpractice reforms, pledging only that he would ask HHS to conduct demonstration projects looking at solutions to malpractice concerns. That hasn't been satisfactory to Republicans, who would like to see more definitive changes made to the malpractice system--in many cases, some form of caps on damages.

Now, the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee are bickering over the malpractice issue, with Finance and Judiciary arguing over which would have jurisdiction over more radical malpractice lawsuit limits. Democrats say they'll only agree to limits if Republicans come on board.

Ultimately, it appears that the jurisdictional dispute will be settled in favor of the Judiciary Committee. It remains to be seen, however, whether this is just a short-lived spat, or a meaningful development in the struggle over malpractice reform.

To learn more about this dispute:
- read this Kaiser Health News piece

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