Archives: May 2011

May 2011 Newsletter

Protect Patients Now Volume 6, Issue 5 May 2011 Newsletter E-Newsletter Special points of interest: Survey Says… Americans Support Medical Liability Reform The HEALTH Act Clears Another Hurdle Take Action – Contact Congress in Support of the HEALTH Act Federal Problem – Federal Solution Picking up the Pieces Survey Says… Americans Support Medical Liability Reform Recent legislative action in Washington has put medical liability reform in the spotlight, but a new poll confirms this is an important issue outside the Beltway as well. Earlier this month, the HCLA and PPN released a poll that found that 58 percent of Americans believe their representatives in Washington should vote in favor of medical liability reform, including those reforms included in the HEALTH Act, when the bill reaches the House floor in the coming months. Only 24 percent opposed such reforms. The poll also revealed that 71 percent of those surveyed believe their access to affordable, high-quality health care is threatened because medical liability costs are forcing good doctors out of medicine. Sixty-five percent of Americans support full payment for lost wages and medical expenses and reasonable limits on awards for “pain and suffering” in order to rein in costs. When the survey says…

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New Directions in Medical Liability Reform

Medical liability reform has maintained a tenacious hold on the national policy agenda. During the first several years of the 21st century, a malpractice insurance “crisis” prompted vociferous demands by organized medicine and liability insurers for tort reforms to curb litigation costs.1 Many observers anticipated that once the insurance market calmed, so too would calls for reform. Instead, a new force for change emerged — health care reform. Leading up to the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March 2010, federal liability reforms were contemplated as a means of garnering support for the legislation among congressional Republicans and medical professional organizations. Although no liability-reform provisions survived in the final bill, Congress made clear the need for more experimentation. The final legislation authorized $50 million for states and health care systems to test new approaches to the resolution of medical-injury disputes. This authorization supplemented the $23 million that the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) awarded in 2010 for projects to advance new approaches to medical-injury compensation and patient safety. As policymakers’ attention has shifted from winning passage of the health reform bill to determining how to implement and pay for it, medical liability reform has…

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Oklahoma enacts cap on noneconomic damages

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has signed into law a series of tort reform measures, including a $350,000 cap on noneconomic damages in civil liability cases. The Oklahoma State Medical Assn. said the cap is a victory in its fight for comprehensive medical liability reforms. Fallin said in a statement that the reforms will lessen burdens on medical professionals and increase access to care for patients. “I’m thrilled to be able to sign into law measures which will directly address skyrocketing legal fees, protect our doctors, and help to bring more jobs and businesses into Oklahoma while still protecting the rights of plaintiffs and those who have suffered injuries,” she said. “This is a great day for anyone who is committed to building a more prosperous state and a stronger economy.” Joint and several liability also were eliminated as part of the laws signed April 5. The term refers to defendants being potentially liable for the entire amount of a plaintiff’s damages, regardless of their degree of fault. The damage cap improves upon state tort reform measures passed in 2009, said Wes Glinsmann, director of state legislation and political affairs for the state medical association. The 2009 law requires that civil…

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