Archives: November 2014

November 2014 Newsletter

  Protect Patients Now Volume 9, Issue 11 November 2014 Newsletter E-Newsletter     Special points of interest: Medical Liability Reform to put Deficit in Order Voters at the Ballot Box Put Patients First Window of Opportunity Opens for Reform Medical Liability Reform to put Deficit in Order Not only is the fiscal environment difficult in Washington – but patients across the country have been facing ever-increasing health care costs. A new report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) details how large of an impact medical liability reform would have on our budget, and our wallets. As part of a report titled, “Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2015 to 2024” the CBO estimated that medical liability reforms, including reasonable limits on non-economic damages, implementation of a fair-share rule, a reduction in the statute of limitations, and limits on excessive attorney fees would result in $70 billion in deficit reductions over the next 10 years. This includes $60.4 million in savings on mandatory spending, including federal health programs, $2 million savings on discretionary spending, and $7.6 million in government revenue increases. The Health Coalition on Liability and Access has continued to push for inclusion of medical liability reforms as serious discussions on deficit…

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When Is It About Money? Why Is It About Time?

Crisis, it is said, means both danger and opportunity. In medical liability reform, however, greater opportunity may lie in noncrisis. In this issue of JAMA, Mello and colleagues offer data suggesting that no crisis of the conventional sort currently exists in the medical malpractice system. In the mid-1970s, mid-1980s, and early 2000s, physicians’ liability insurance became suddenly unavailable, unaffordable, or both. Crisis was undisputed, with the potential for serious disruption of access to medical services. So was the direction of reform, which targeted the marketability of liability insurance, primarily by restricting lawsuits and limiting damages. The causal pathway between these “tort reforms” and physicians’ premiums was admittedly tenuous, and other significant failings of the malpractice system with respect to patient safety and compensation for injury were increasingly evident. When each insurance crisis eventually abated, however, tort reformers declared victory. Three domains comprise the medical malpractice system in operation: clinical care, dispute resolution, and liability insurance. Although malpractice experts have persistently called for a closer connection between the legal and insurance domains and providing safe, accessible medical care, it is still unusual to approach malpractice reform as a health policy problem. Instead, many stakeholders continue to debate liability as an external…

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