September 13, 2009 / 11:20 PM / in 10 years

Obama cool to curbs on medical malpractice suits

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama expressed skepticism over the idea of capping medical malpractice awards but said in an interview broadcast on Sunday he would consider all ideas for reducing healthcare costs.

“You know, what I would be willing to do is to consider any ideas out there that would actually work in terms of reducing costs, improving the quality of patient care,” Obama said in an interview with the CBS-TV show “60 Minutes.”

“So far, the evidence I’ve seen is that caps will not do that,” Obama added.

Obama said in the interview, taped on Friday, that he was confident Congress would succeed in passing a broad bill on health care reform, one of his top legislative priorities.

Obama has blamed Republicans for the difficulty getting agreement on the bill, saying they have failed to take him up on his offer to cooperate.

One element of change that many Republicans want to see is limits on medical malpractice awards. In a speech to Congress last week, Obama gave some ground on the issue by saying he would move forward on an initiative to allow individual states to test ways to limit doctors’ fear of lawsuits.

But in the CBS interview, he questioned whether it was fair to tell patients who have been the victim of negligence that “you can only get a certain amount” of money, no matter the severity of the malpractice.

Reporting by Caren Bohan; editing by Todd Eastham

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