During his address to a joint session of Congress, President Obama called for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to examine possible changes to the medical malpractice system. In his speech, the President endorsed a program in which states can receive grants for experiments aimed at reducing medical malpractice lawsuits.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius highlighted two such state-level initiatives already adopted in some areas that could be eligible for grants. One is a merit certification program in which patients must first receive declarations from a panel of medical experts stating that the patients have a reasonable basis for a suit. The other is an early disclosure program in which physicians and hospitals are encouraged to reveal mistakes early, apologize and attempt to negotiate a settlement with patients.

White House and HHS officials said that they have yet to determine how much funding would be available for the grants, how many states would qualify for them, how many different kinds of experiments would be allowed, or when they could get under way.