We’re not the first to mention this, but we want to make sure our readers know. The recently released House version of the administration’s healthcare reform package contains what is billed as pilot projects for “medical liability reform.” It’s a brief nod in the direction of the elephant in the room – limiting the incessant litigation that drives up the expense of every aspect of healthcare in this country, from the doctors, to the hospitals, to the EMTs, to the drugs and devices that patients use.

But this “incentive” project is really a poison pill for those states that have already enacted certain types of tort reform. It’s §2531, slipped in at pp. 1431-33 of the almost 2000-page bill. The “incentives” for “alternative liability laws” in this section (which isn’t even funded) are only available if “the law does not limit attorneys’ fees or impose caps on damages.” See §2531(a)(4)(B). In other words, states that cap either fees or damages need not apply – unless, of course, they first repeal their own reforms.

In short, these “incentives” are worse than nothing.

Beware of Congress bearing gifts (with apologies to Virgil and Laocoon).