Category Archives: National

May 2017 Newsletter

  Liability reform cited as major savings in President’s budget With an emphasis on deficit reduction, the President’s 2018 budget highlighted how medical liability reform can lead to improved fiscal health. Cited as resulting in major savings and reform, medical liability reform is noted in the President’s budget as necessary due to the fact that “the current medical liability system does not work for patients or providers, nor does it provide quality, evidence-based care,” budget language states. The liability reform proposal in the budget contains proven state reforms that have lowered costs and increased access to care in states such as California, Texas, West Virginia, and Ohio. This allows for deficit reductions of $55 billion over 10 years upon passage of a bill that contains reasonable limits on non-economic damages of $250,000 (increasing with inflation), a three-year statute of limitations, and modifications on attorney’s fees to ensure deserving patients – not personal injury lawyers – benefit from liability judgments and settlements. To review the medical liability reform proposal contained within the President’s budget, click here. Panel discussion yields insights into future of liability reform Taking part in a legal panel on the future of medical liability reform, HCLA chair Mike…

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Panel Discussion Yields Insights into Future of Liability Reform

Taking part in a legal panel on the future of medical liability reform, HCLA chair Mike Stinson joined with legal experts and those supporting the interests of consumers to give insight on how efforts to change the currently broken system will evolve. Hosted by George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School and the school’s Law & Economics Center, the panel represented varying legal, industry, and patient interests. Speaking on behalf of PIAA and their government relations efforts, Stinson talked about the benefit of liability reforms to deserving patients and federal health care spending. “The proposals [under consideration] have been scored as providing significant federal savings if enacted by Congress,” Stinson commented. “Our interest is that we get a more uniform system of medical justice across the United States.” Pushing back on assertions by other panel members that federal liability reform is unnecessary or unconstitutional, Stinson stated that “the system needs to be corrected – it’s incredibly inefficient. When two-thirds of all claims are dropped, withdrawn, or dismissed because they lack merit, but still cost tens of thousands of dollars each to defend against, you’ve got a system that’s not working correctly.” To watch the medical liability reform panel discussion in…

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Liability Reform Cited as Major Savings in President’s Budget

With an emphasis on deficit reduction, the President’s 2018 budget highlighted how medical liability reform can lead to improved fiscal health. Cited as resulting in major savings and reform, medical liability reform is noted in the President’s budget as necessary due to the fact that “the current medical liability system does not work for patients or providers, nor does it provide quality, evidence-based care,” budget language states. The liability reform proposal in the budget contains proven state reforms that have lowered costs and increased access to care in states such as California, Texas, West Virginia, and Ohio. This allows for deficit reductions of $55 billion over 10 years upon passage of a bill that contains reasonable limits on non-economic damages of $250,000 (increasing with inflation), a three-year statute of limitations, and modifications on attorney’s fees to ensure deserving patients – not personal injury lawyers – benefit from liability judgments and settlements. To review the medical liability reform proposal contained within the President’s budget, click here.

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April 2017 Newsletter

  Medical liability reform – an issue of Price With Tom Price at the helm of the Department of Health and Human Services, and Congress likely to make systematic health care changes, chances for medical liability reform are stronger than ever.  So say several experts in the field. Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, noted medical liability system scholars Michelle M. Mello, J.D., Ph.D., Allen Kachalia, M.D., J.D., and David M. Studdert, LL.B., Sc.D convey their opinions on the opportunities that lie ahead for proponents of medical liability reform with Secretary Price as an advocate. Citing medical liability in his confirmation hearings, as “a really difficult challenge,” Secretary Price has long been a champion of reforms that reduce medical lawsuit abuse. Acknowledging that “the liability system has well-documented problems, and its reform was omitted from the Affordable Care Act,” the authors support a way forward in the near term. While the current liability system is no longer at the precipice of crisis, Mello, Kachalia, and Studdert agree that “a period of calm in liability insurance markets is the best time to proceed with sensible reform.” The deck is stacked in support of reasonable limits on non-economic damages, with…

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The Tort Bar’s Senate Undertaker

It’s good to be a Senator, especially if you are a Republican who is the most important opponent of tort reform on Capitol Hill. Witness the largesse that the plaintiffs bar is bestowing on South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham in its moment of maximum political peril. On Thursday Mr. Graham was feted in Houston at a fundraiser hosted by Mark Lanier, who can afford it. The Lanier Law Firm has vacuumed up some $13 billion in tort verdicts over the years from Vioxx to asbestos. The invitation asks Mr. Lanier’s tort comrades to share their wealth to the tune of $500 to $5,400 for “Team Graham.” “Our goal is to show Senator Graham an appreciation from both sides of the bar for what he can help do, especially with tort reform running rampant from the house,” Mr. Lanier added in an email. “It will take Senator Graham to help educate folks and lead the charge from the Republican side.” Mr. Graham has every right to take campaign cash from all comers, and in this case he is a true believer. He’s long fought tort reform, and his legal friends have rewarded him with some $3.7 million over his 24-year Senate career….

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Medical Liability – Prospect for Federal Reform

Medical malpractice reform appears to be back on the federal policy agenda. The appointment of Tom Price, a long-time proponent of tort reform, as secretary of health and human services, in conjunction with Republican control of both houses of Congress, has created fertile conditions for several Republican proposals that have languished for years without the requisite support. Although it has been debated many times, a major federal foray into medical liability, a state-based area of law, would be unprecedented. The prospect raises several questions: Which reforms are on the table? Would they be effective? And is the time right? Although Price has not announced any specific proposals since his nomination, “lawsuit abuse” has long been an important issue to him. During his confirmation hearings, he described medical liability as “a really difficult challenge” and noted that there were “some exciting opportunities out there.” While serving in the House of Representatives, Price (R-GA) sponsored several bills aimed at limiting health care providers’ liability, most recently H.R. 2300 in 2015. Key elements of these bills are represented in H.R. 277, introduced by other House Republicans on January 4, 2017; H.R. 1215, introduced on February 24, 2017, by Representative Steve King (R-IA); and…

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March 2017 Newsletter

  New Congress makes early efforts in support of medical liability reform Just over a month after a new Congress and President were in position, medical liability reform appeared at the top of their agenda as two comprehensive bills were introduced. In late February, the House Judiciary Committee approved the Protecting Access to Care Act, a comprehensive medical liability reform bill introduced by Representative Steve King (R-IA). The Protecting Access to Care Act, H.R. 1215, is modeled after proven reforms already in place in Texas, California, and many other states around the country that have had a positive effect on increasing patient access to care and keeping health care costs affordable for patients and physicians. More recently introduced is the ACCESS (Accessible Care by Curbing Excessive lawSuitS) Act, H.R. 1704, which adds to the gaining momentum for liability reform in the House. President Trump has also expressed his support for medical liability reforms in his address to a Joint Session of Congress. “…We should implement legal reforms that protect patients and doctors from unnecessary costs that drive up the price of insurance,” President Trump stated. “The HCLA is pleased that the House of Representatives and President Trump recognize the need…

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Iowa Senate Advances Bill To Discourage Med Mal Suits

The Iowa Senate on Monday approved a tort reform bill that would cap noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases at $250,000 and require injured patients to obtain a “certificate of merit” from a medical expert before filing suit. S.F. 465 passed the Iowa Legislature’s upper house in a 28-21 vote that was split along party lines, with 28 Republicans voting to approve the proposed legislation and 20 Democrats and one independent senator voting no. If approved, the bill would impose a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering, similar to a federal bill recently floated by Republicans in Congress. In addition, the bill would require medical malpractice plaintiffs to file a certificate of merit — essentially an expert opinion vouching for the validity of the claims — which is designed to weed out and discourage frivolous lawsuits. The bill would also make certain statements made by doctors to patients regarding adverse medical incidents inadmissible in court, and would tighten the requirements as to who can qualify as an expert medical witness. During floor debate on Monday, a Republican proponent of the bill, state Sen. Charles Schneider of West Des Moines, said that the proposed legislation would help…

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Bill to change medical professional liabilities law passes state Senate

A bill that would change current state medical professional liabilities law has passed the state Senate. Senate Bill 338 would requires lawsuits against long-term care providers to be brought in the county in which the facility is located. Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Trump, R-Morgan, is the sponsor of the bill. It has been sent to the House of Delegates Judiciary Committee. “Currently, most of the cases are brought in Kanawha County because corporate headquarters are in Charleston or because a company has a facility in Kanawha County,” said Patrick Kelly, CEO of the West Virginia Health Care Association. “If the bill passes, the people who know the facility best, local citizens, will hear the cases. “What’s happening now is that some of the facilities have a corporate office in Charleston, so if you have a case in the Northern or Eastern Panhandle, those folks have to leave their facility to come to Kanawha County. You can’t take an administrator or nurses out of the building for a long period of time.” The bill also would define occurrence as “any and all injuries to a patient arising from health care rendered by a healthcare facility or a healthcare provider and includes…

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Lawmakers seek to cap damages in medical malpractice cases

Doctors who worry about medical malpractice lawsuits would get major relief under legislation that was approved by a House committee Tuesday and that would make it harder for patients to come after their money. The legislation, approved by the House Judiciary Committee in an 18-17 vote, would cap damages that can be paid by doctors, hospitals, and nursing homes. (Many states already limit awards paid by individual providers.) It would cover individuals who are insured under Medicare, Medicaid, veterans or military health plans, and the Affordable Care Act, and could also impact people covered under COBRA or health savings plans. In introducing the measure, Iowa Republican Representative Steve King referred to airlines, which, he said, “throw blame out the window” after an accident, and instead focus on how to prevent it from happening again. His comment enraged several Democrats, who accused King of favoring the economic interests of health care providers over malpractice victims — and of showing a lack of basic knowledge about law. “We cast blame,” said Florida Democratic Representative Ted Deutch. “That’s how the justice system works.” Lobbyists for medical professionals were delighted with the legislation. “Instead of being able to focus on their patients, more and more doctors…

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