Cost a factor in military malpractice bill

May 17, 2009 at 7:53 PM

WASHINGTON, May 17 (UPI) -- A law professor says he isn't optimistic about Congress's latest attempt to overturn the laws shielding the U.S. military from medical malpractice lawsuits.

Jonathan Turley of George Washington University says the cost of upgrading the armed forces' healthcare system is a major impediment.

"It would cost a huge amount of money to upgrade the military medical system to meet basic civilian standards," Turley told The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot. "Congress simply doesn't want to spend the money."

Turley's pessimism was directed toward the Carmelo Rodriguez Military Medical Accountability Act of 2009, which would repeal the Feres Doctrine. The Feres Doctrine is based on a 1950 U.S. Supreme Court decision that effectively bars military personnel from suing for malpractice committed by military doctors.

The Virginian-Pilot said Sunday that the act, named after a Marine Corps sergeant who died of cancer, has supporters who want to see military healthcare held to the same standards as the civilian system; however, opponents in Congress say the answer to improving medical care is not litigation.

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