October 11, 2009

CBO Projects Savings from Capping Punitive Damages for Medical Malpractice

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that a package of medical malpractice reforms, including a $500,000 cap on punitive damages, would save $54 billion, as reported here in the Washington Post. On the other hand, USA Today reports that the CBO projects a savings of $11 billion.

I'm not sure why the two stories give different numbers, as they seem to be reporting on the same CBO projections. [UPDATE: The $54 billion figure is the CBO's estimated savings over 10 years, and the $11 billion figure is a one-year projection.] In any event, I am skeptical that a cap on punitive damages would generate any huge savings by itself, because punitive damages awards seem to be quite rare in medical malpractice actions.