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Sebelius as tort reformer?

Eyebrows have been raised at President Obama's decision to let Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius lead his inquiry into how best to reduce costly medical malpractice lawsuits. That's because before Sebelius was HHS secretary, Kansas governor or Kansas insurance commissioner, she was director of the then-Kansas Trial Lawyers Association. On Thursday the Obama administration announced that states and health care systems would receive $25 million in grants to begin a national experiment on alternatives to malpractice suits. Asked about her tort reform assignment by the Washington Post, Sebelius said: "I think I'm just the person to do it because I think I understand the system of litigation very well. I understand that we want to, as the president has always said, compensate injured victims, but the defensive medicine is not helpful to the overall cost in the system. The best opportunity is to raise the quality of care and lower medical errors, so there are lots of strategies we can put in place." Many are skeptical, including Weekly Standard blogger Mary Katharine Ham, who translated Sebelius' answer as: "The fox is uniquely qualified to guard the henhouse, because he understands the delicious taste of poultry very well."

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