Barr and Bera Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Patient Health and Lower Healthcare Costs

The Saving Lives, Saving Costs Act reduces malpractice risk for physicians who use evidence-based guidelines??

March 4, 2014

WASHINGTON – Congressmen Andy Barr (R-KY) and Congressman Ami Bera, M.D. (D-CA) today announced that they have introduced the bipartisan Saving Lives, Saving Costs Act. This legislation would lower healthcare costs and improve patient care by reducing medical malpractice and insurance fraud using evidence-based guidelines developed by doctors. Doctors who practice using these guidelines would be eligible for liability protection, known as a “safe harbor,” if the case involves a federal statute or if federal money was used to pay for care.

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Over the course of their careers, 75 percent of physicians will face a malpractice claim. The fear of lawsuits can lead to care choices that protect the physician legally, like ordering unnecessary tests and procedures, but may not be what evidence says is the best option for the patient. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, reforming this system has the potential to reduce healthcare spending by up to $64 billion over the next 10 years, and to improve care for patients.

“Congressman Bera and I introduced The Saving Lives, Saving Costs Act because there is nothing partisan about finding practical solutions to improve patient health outcomes,” said Congressman Barr. “Americans deserve healthcare reform that will help lower the cost of care and protect the sacred patient-doctor relationship. Our bill will lead to better, more affordable, and evidence-based patient care by removing the need for physicians to worry about practicing defensive medicine, instead allowing them to focus on their patients’ actual needs.”

“The bipartisan Saving Lives, Saving Costs Act is a practical way to bring down the skyrocketing cost of healthcare, and to make the system work better for patients that people from both parties can get behind,” said Congressman Bera. “As a doctor, I know that physicians want to do what’s best for their patients, and promoting evidence-based medicine will help us do that.”

Part of a collaborative and bipartisan freshman class of lawmakers, Bera is a Democratic physician from California and Barr is a Republican attorney from Kentucky. They met last January and decided to work together on this important challenge facing America that is relevant to both their areas of expertise.

Please click here for more information on H.R. 4106, the bipartisan Saving Lives, Saving Costs Act.


Support for the Saving Lives, Saving Costs Act of 2014: 

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) 

ACOG President Jeanne A. Conry, MD, PhD, said: “Clinical practice guidelines, like those issued by ACOG, provide ob-gyns with top-quality recommendations based on scientific research and input from expert obstetrician-gynecologists. These guidelines help ensure the highest standards of patient care. It is essential that physicians who follow best practices in patient care be protected from liability.”

ACOG’s statement continues, "The Saving Lives, Saving Costs Act of 2014, introduced by Representatives Andy Barr (R-KY) and Ami Bera, MD (D-CA), will help to ensure that quality remains a hallmark of women’s health care and America’s health care system."

Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC)

HLC President Mary R. Grealy said: "We applaud Representatives Barr and Bera for bridging the partisan divide on an issue that has remained locked in political conflict for far too long. By providing safe harbors against litigation for those doctors that adhere to the highest and widely-accepted practice standards, this bill is in patients' best interests and will make the healthcare system more quality-driven and cost-effective...Representatives Barr and Bera have offered a solution that will encourage healthcare that delivers the most effective, most appropriate patient care."

"We now have a solution at hand that protects patients while improving the healthcare system."


The patient care, and cost savings benefits of reforming the current system are supported by numerous experts:

New research supporting the potential benefits of this model was most recently highlighted in a Bloomberg column by Peter Orszag, former Director of the Office of Management and Budget and former Director of the Congressional Budget Office. “The core problem with the medical liability system is that doctors are evaluated by the standard of ‘customary practice,’ defined as what doctors typically do. Customary practice, however, might not reflect the best medical science,” wrote Orszag. “Policy makers looking for ways to improve the value of health care should reform the malpractice system -- ideally by altering the customary-practice standard to establish safe harbors.”

Zeke Emauel, Topher Spiro and Maura Calsyn from the Center for American Progress say, “A recent analysis of hospital data shows that defining the standard of care in malpractice cases based on nationwide medical practices reduces local variations in care. Using national practices—which are more likely to be supported by evidence—to establish the standard of care likely exposes physicians to new data and information and creates incentives to follow these national standards. In states that have adopted national practices as the standard of care, the differences in certain medical practices between those states and the rest of the nation were reduced by 30 percent to 50 percent.”

Former Mitt Romney health care policy advisor Avik Roy says in the National Review, the impact of reform “would hearten any supply-side economist: reform would be as good as a tax cut, and would also reduce the deficit. By reducing the cost of health care, American families would pay less for health insurance, and thereby keep more money for themselves, leading to economic growth and more federal revenue.”