The Impact of the Affordable Care Act on Medical Malpractice Litigation

31 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2012

Date Written: April 30, 2012


Critics of the Affordable Care Act claim that one of the law's downfalls is a lack of meaningful changes to the rules that govern medical malpractice. However, if the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the ACA in its entirety, the law will lead to major changes in the landscape of medical malpractice litigation in the United States.

Change will happen for two reasons. First, the ACA does contain some modest legislative measures such as pilot programs that will affect medical malpractice. The second and more important reason that the ACA will change malpractice litigation can be traced to the indirect impact of the other substantive changes the law will bring to the nation’s healthcare system. For example, millions of newly insured patients will alter the pattern of malpractice lawsuits because more people will be receiving medical care, and some of that care will be negligent. Changes in the way medical expenses are reimbursed by the government also will affect malpractice litigation, as will the mandate to expand the use of electronic medical records and add new insurance regulations. This paper gives an overview of medical malpractice litigation in the United States, and a state-by-state history of efforts to curb patients’ rights to sue for medical injuries. There is a heavy emphasis on the issue of so-called tort reform, including maximum caps on damages, medical review panels, and insurance regulations. This paper also offers several proposed changes that would improve the laws governing medical malpractice.

Keywords: Affordable Care Act, tort reform, ObamaCare, insurance, medical malpractice

Suggested Citation

Davis, Alex C., The Impact of the Affordable Care Act on Medical Malpractice Litigation (April 30, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

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