Archives: March 2011

March 2011 Newsletter

Protect Patients Now Volume 6, Issue 3 MARCH 2011 Newsletter E-Newsletter Special points of interest: HEALTH Act Scores Big Lawsuit Loan Sharks Protecting Patients and Providers Reform 2.0 for Florida HEALTH Act Scores Big As the HEALTH Act makes its way through the maze of procedures on Capitol Hill, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has weighed in with an estimate on the cost savings the bill would have. The CBO has determined that the HEALTH Act would reduce the federal deficit by $40 billion from 2011 to 2021. This includes $34 billion in savings from lower physicians’ premiums and a reduction in the practice of defensive medicine, and $6 billion from an increase in taxable wages attributed to the decrease in private health insurance premiums. A key provision of the bill is a reasonable limit of $250,000 on non-economic damages, which has been successfully implemented in California and Texas. The CBO score shows that medical liability reform has a real impact on the bottom line of patients, physicians, and our federal budget. To read more about the CBO report, click here. Lawsuit Loan Sharks Protect Patients Now has previously noted efforts by those in the lending community who extend loans…

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Legislature wants to clamp down on lawsuits, entice doctors in bid to rein in Medicaid

TALLAHASSEE — Republican lawmakers struggling to contain Florida’s $20 billion-and-growing Medicaid program are taking an unconventional approach: They’re going after trial lawyers and the rights of injured patients to sue. Although lawsuits, insurance premiums and the amount of damages paid have all gone down since Gov. Jeb Bush drove through caps on medical-malpractice cases in 2003, GOP lawmakers appear poised to dramatically scale back personal-injury lawsuits. The reason: They hope to entice the influential lobbies for hospitals, doctors and insurers to drop their opposition and swallow Medicaid reform. “We’re hopeful that we can craft a plan that won’t make everyone happy but will offer some sweeteners to get them to buy into a reform package,” said Senate President Mike Haridopolos, a Merritt Island Republican who has put Medicaid reform atop his agenda this session. So plans taking shape to hand over most of Florida’s 3 million Medicaid patients to managed-care companies also propose to shield the doctors, nursing homes and hospitals treating them from large injury payouts. Doctors and hospitals have traditionally fought the spread of managed care in Medicaid because it squeezed their bottom lines. And reform will worsen that squeeze: Besides putting patients in health-maintenance organizations, lawmakers want…

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Tort Reform Bill Would Reduce Deficit by $40 Billion

A House bill that caps noneconomic damages in malpractice cases at $250,000 and enacts other reforms to curb frivolous lawsuits against clinicians would reduce the federal deficit by $40 billion from 2011 to 2021, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The bill, called the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-Cost Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2011, would lower premiums for malpractice insurance and reduce the number of “defensive medicine” services ordered by clinicians to avoid getting sued, the CBO stated in an analysis released yesterday. As a result of these lower costs, direct federal spending on healthcare would decrease by $34 billion over 10 years. In addition, lower costs on the provider side would cause premiums for private health insurance to fall, which would allow employers to increase taxable wages for employees. That, in turn, would boost federal tax revenue by roughly $6 billion. Two House Republicans and 1 House Democrat introduced the HEALTH Act in January, but the bill is no stranger to Washington — it has been regularly submitted by House Republicans since 2002. Curbing medical liability litigation is a major priority for Congressional Republicans, but less so for their Democratic colleagues, who tend to see measures such as…

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Lobby Battle Over Loans for Lawsuits

WASHINGTON — Companies that advance money to plaintiffs involved in personal injury lawsuits are campaigning in state capitals for legislation making clear that their growing industry is not subject to usury limits on interest rates or other state laws that protect borrowers. Instead, the lawsuit lending companies want to adopt a separate and less rigorous set of protections. Since February, they have persuaded legislators in at least five states, including New York, to introduce bills based on the industry’s own proposals. The campaign is drawing strong opposition from chambers of commerce, insurance companies and others who worry that lawsuit loans encourage litigation by emboldening plaintiffs. These critics also argue that the bills would strip protections from borrowers. “They are coming in under the guise of accepting regulation when in fact what they are trying to do is to legalize lawsuit lending and to explicitly exempt themselves for consumer lending requirements,” said Lisa A. Rickard, president of the Institute for Legal Reform, an arm of the United States Chamber of Commerce. These clashes reflect both the uncertain legal status of lawsuit lending and the growing debate over its social value: Should third-party investment in lawsuits be encouraged, tightly restricted or banned…

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