Archives: December 2010

December 2010 Newsletter

Protect Patients Now Volume 5, Issue  12 DECEMBER 2010 Newsletter E-Newsletter Special points of interest: Texas Battles Bogus Claims Investing in Lawsuit Abuse Editorials Encourage Action on Liability Reform Happy Holidays from Protect Patients Now Texas Battles Bogus Claims As we’ve seen since landmark medical liability reforms were passed in 2003, Texas has become a bastion for business and placed a welcome mat out for new doctors. Patient access to care has increased tremendously and businesses are hiring and growing. But Texas Governor Rick Perry isn’t done yet. A Wall Street Journal article this month details Governor Perry’s proposal to build upon the state’s successful legal reforms passed in 2003 by enacting a “loser pays” rule, which would require plaintiffs to pick up the legal costs of their targets if they lose their suits. The lawyers and firms that file claims determined to be groundless would, in almost all cases, pay a penalty – a downside they’d have to weigh against their chances of any award. Deserving patients would benefit with the creation of new legal channels to expedite smaller claims and speed up compensation. Governor Perry isn’t afraid to take on the personal injury lawyers on behalf of patients…

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Loser Pays, Everyone Wins

Texas pushes the British rule on tort reform. Republicans picked up 16 governorships and at least 675 state legislative seats in November, and some of them are using this new running room to get creative. One Governor out of the gate early is Texan Rick Perry, who wants to extend his state’s impressive tort reform record. Most notably, Mr. Perry is proposing a British-style “loser pays” rule, which would require plaintiffs to pick up the legal costs of their targets if they lose their suits. Almost all of America’s economic competitors follow a similar standard, but trial lawyers and their Democratic codependents have blocked states from making this revolutionary improvement to U.S. civil justice. Americans now spend more on tort litigation than they do on new cars. The courts are choked with such high crimes as the $54 million pair of pants that a D.C. dry cleaner allegedly ruined in 2007. A procedural reform like loser pays to deter junk lawsuits would make the legal system less of a drag on the economy and less of a political tool for redistributing wealth. Mr. Perry’s proposal isn’t the pure version of loser pays, in which the losing party—plaintiff or defendant—is responsible…

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Medical malpractice an inconsistent system

The news that New York faces a current fiscal year budget deficit that could reach $1 billion and a deficit for the next fiscal year that could approach $10 billion is sobering for us all. Deficits of this magnitude will create difficult choices for Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo and the newly elected Legislature. New Yorkers already carry the highest tax burden in the country. We can no longer count upon new revenues to address this fiscal crisis. To close the deficit, all options to reduce spending must be on the table, including Medicaid and, indeed, all health care programs. New York can no longer accept the extraordinary costs incurred by taxpayers to sustain a failed system for resolving allegations of medical malpractice. This failed system has produced unsustainably high liability insurance premiums for New York physicians, among the very highest in the country, that threaten the ability of many physicians to provide the care our patients deserve and expect to receive. These enormous costs are the result of an unpredictable system for resolving allegations of medical malpractice. Many studies show that awards are given where no negligence occurred, while those truly injured by negligence often do not sue. As a result…

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November 2010 Newsletter

Protect Patients Now Volume 5, Issue  11 NOVEMBER 2010 Newsletter E-Newsletter Special points of interest: Increasing Access to Care by Decreasing our National Deficit Investing in Lawsuit Abuse Editorials Encourage Action on Liability Reform With Reform in Reverse, Doctors Flee Illinois Increasing Access to Care by Decreasing our National Deficit With reducing our sky-high deficit becoming a national priority, two leading bipartisan efforts have proposed comprehensive medical liability reform as part of the solution. Specifically, reasonable limits on non-economic damages have been cited as a key reform component that will reduce defensive medicine and related health care costs. The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Chairmen Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming, and Erskine Bowles, former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, released an initial proposal earlier this month that included plans to reduce health care costs – one of which is to “pay lawyers less and reduce the costs of defensive medicine by adopting comprehensive tort reform.” Even more encouraging was the release of a second study by the Bipartisan Policy Center, placing the savings of restraining total health care costs at $756 billion through 2020, partly due to limits on noneconomic and punitive damages…

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September 2010 Newsletter

Protect Patients Now Volume 5, Issue 9 SEPTEMBER 2010 Newsletter E-Newsletter Special points of interest: Health Affairs Takes on Health Care’s “Unfinished Business“ Cut Out Tax Cuts for Personal Injury Lawyers New Study Shows Fear of Lawsuit Abuse is Real Take Action to Help Stop Lawsuit Abuse! Health Affairs Takes on Health Care’s “Unfinished Business“ The September issue of Health Affairs is dedicated to our nation’s broken medical liability system. Protect Patients Now was encouraged by the attention that was given to this critical issue – unfortunately they chose to ignore key factors that are contributing to an out-of-control liability system. While the issue is filled with studies detailing the cost of meritless lawsuits and defensive medicine, it puts a price of $46 billion annually on the cost of unnecessary tests and procedures – a number on the low end of other recent studies. The Health Affairs articles suggest that physicians overestimate the risk of being sued, a claim proved false by an AMA study below showing just the opposite, and suggests improvements to patient safety as the solution to the problem. In a letter to the editor of Health Affairs, HCLA leaders write, “Your focus on improving patient safety, which…

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December 2009 Newsletter

Protect Patients Now Volume 4, Issue 12 December 2009 Newsletter E-Newsletter Special points of interest: Reform Roll Call: Tracking Medical Liability in Senate Health Bill Opening Pandora’s Box Many Thanks and Happy New Year Reform Roll Call: Tracking Medical Liability in Senate Health Bill By now, readers of PPN’s newsletter probably know that the health care reform bill passed by the US Senate makes little mention or movement on reforming our nation’s broken medical liability system. However, it’s worthwhile for us to mention that there were several efforts by Republican Senators to protect patients from out-of-control personal injury lawyers: • By a vote of 32-66, the Senate rejected an amendment by Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., to cap the fees that plaintiffs’ lawyers can collect when they win a case. The amendment would have limited the lawyers to one-third of the first $150,000, and one-fourth of additional amounts above that. Click here to read more about Senator Ensign’s amendment. • Senators Lindsay Graham & Saxby Chambliss introduced a “loser pays” amendment that would create a system of preliminary, non-binding arbitration for medical liability claims before they ever enter a courtroom. If one or both of the parties involved rejects the arbitrator’s decision, they…

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January 2009 Newsletter

Click here to download PDF Protect Patients Now Volume 4, Issue 1 JANUARY 2009 Newsletter E-Newsletter Special points of interest: Best Wishes to President Obama Why Mess With A Good Thing? Hope for Hawaii Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop Best Wishes to President Obama Protect Patients Now would like to congratulate President Barack Obama on his inauguration and wish him all the best as he takes over the leadership of our country. President Obama will certainly be hearing from Protect Patients Now as the health care debate continues. We will push for medical liability reform to be a part of any comprehensive health care reform legislation to preserve patient access to quality health care and to help control costs. A new national survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that Americans would also like to see action on health reform. While economic recovery is far-and-away their top concern (73 percent), 43 percent said reforming health care reform should be a top priority, after fighting terrorism (48 percent). To read more about the survey and President Obama’s likely plans for health care reform this year, click here. Why Mess With A Good Thing? In the…

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February 2009 Newsletter

Click here to download the PDF Protect Patients Now Volume 4, Issue 2 FEBRUARY 2009 Newsletter E-Newsletter Special points of interest: Attack of the Trial Lawyers The Proof is in the Pudding Judicial Impropriety? You Decide. Aloha Update Attack of the Trial Lawyers What sounds like a bad movie is actually the title of an editorial this month in the Baltimore Sun that details attempts by personal injury lawyers to roll back Maryland’s laws to stop medical lawsuit abuse. Just five years ago, the medical liability crisis in Maryland was driving doctors out of state and out of business, and limiting patients’ access to care – particularly in rural areas. In 2004, the Maryland General Assembly approved a package of reforms that included reasonable limits on non-economic damages. A current bill under consideration would raise the cap on non-economic damages and unfortunately for Maryland patients and physicians, it’s gaining support. The editorial states that “just because medical malpractice insurance rates have stabilized – and even gone down a bit for many doctors – doesn’t mean it’s time for Maryland to roll back hard-fought caps on noneconomic damages.” And that’s exactly right. Rolling back reforms will quickly reverse the situation, and leave…

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March 2009 Newsletter

Click here to download the PDF Protect Patients Now Volume 4, Issue 3 MARCH 2009 Newsletter E-Newsletter Special points of interest: PPN Takes Its Case to the US Congress Medical Liability Reform Debate Heats Up Rallying for Reform Protecting Patients in the States PPN Takes Its Case to the US Congress Last Tuesday, our own Dr. Bean, President of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, testified in front of the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health regarding medical liability reform and the negative impact it is having on patient access to care. “Access to effective medical care depends on a number of factors, but one that’s too often neglected is the barrier to access created by a malfunctioning medical liability system,” Dr. Bean stated. As Congress furthers the debate on comprehensive health care reform, Dr. Bean noted that “Those at the forefront of health care reform understand that it will do little good to achieve universal insurance coverage, if the doctors who actually supply the care are driven from practice, or forced to retire early, or shun life-saving procedures because of uncontrolled liability risk.” Click here to read Dr. Bean’s testimony in full, and here for news coverage of the hearing….

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April 2009 Newsletter

Protect Patients Now Volume 4, Issue 4 APRIL 2009 Newsletter E-Newsletter Special points of interest: Where Have All the Doctors Gone? Toward A Healthier Economy A Trial for Health Courts Legislative Update Where Have All the Doctors Gone? Possibly to states with protections against medical lawsuit abuse. The Frederick News-Post reported that Maryland patients are facing a critical access to care crisis due to physician shortages, and the problem is only going to get worse unless the state enacts comprehensive medical liability reforms. Maryland’s average medical liability award is nearly $320,000 – about $35,000 more than the national average – and the state has no reasonable limits on non-economic damages. Currently, Maryland only has 178 doctors per 100,000 people, well under the national average of 212 per 100,000 people. In the growing Frederick County area, there are only two full time practicing neurosurgeons. Massachusetts is facing a similar problem. A recent survey by the Massachusetts Medical Society found that 50% of graduating medical students planned on practicing in other states, and only 13% of currently practicing physicians are under the age of 35. Last year, liability costs rose 5.3% for Massachusetts physicians. You might try looking for these doctors down in Texas,…

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