June 2019 Newsletter

Lifting liability limits in New Mexico could take medical system from bad to worse Already ranking two spots from the bottom on access to health care when compared to all U.S. states, New Mexico patients now face another obstacle if personal injury attorneys have their way. Challenges stemming from a rural landscape, an aging population, and low physician pay influencing recruitment already make it difficult for patients to access affordable health care. Making things worse is an attempt to raise reasonable limits on non-economic damages to $2 million for individual physicians and $25 million for medical entities, which includes many small practices. Michael Kaufman, MD, of Taos Medical Group, who has practiced internal medicine in Taos for more than 40 years, expressed what many fellow practitioners were feeling: “If this goes through, we’re out of here.” Dr. Kaufman cited an impossible operating environment for a four-physician, three-nurse practitioner practice due to higher insurance premiums required to remain covered under an increased limit. While the measure was defeated – for now – due to overwhelming opposition by the healthcare community demonstrating their concern for their patients’ access to healthcare, it remains likely to be introduced again in the future. Click here…

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May 2019 Newsletter

Minnesota liability ruling trends towards dangerous precedent for patients Setting a troubling precedent that could limit collaborative patient care efforts, the Minnesota Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of expanding liability and opening the door for an increase in medical lawsuit abuse. In mid-April, the Court issued a ruling case of Warren v. Dinter, reversing precedent and stating that the existence of a physician-patient relationship was not a prerequisite for bringing forth a medical liability lawsuit. The Court declared that legal actions could proceed if the harm suffered by an individual — even if they were not considered a patient of the physician — was a “reasonably foreseeable consequence” of the physician’s actions. Supporting the defendant were the American Medical Association (AMA), Minnesota Medical Association (MMA), and the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA), on the basis that this new precedent could expose physicians and other health professionals to expanded liability risks in situations that were previously protected, including unbilled consultations, and discourage collaboration. “The overall expansive language in the Court’s opinion does raise concerns,” said Mark Fogg, general counsel of COPIC, MMA’s endorsed medical professional liability insurance provider. “We respectfully believe that it is important that a physician-patient relationship be established…

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March 2019 Newsletter

Supreme Court changes could improve Florida’s liability climate The liability climate may be changing for the better in Florida, where access to care advocates are optimistic that new state Supreme Court justices will rule in favor of reform. Recently dubbed as the nation’s second worst “judicial hellhole” by the American Tort Reform Association, prior sitting justices voted in 2014 and 2017 to overturn medical liability legislation passed by the state legislature. With three new justices recently appointed to the court, advocates across the state have reason to be hopeful. State Rep. Tom Leek hopes that comprehensive medical liability reforms, including reasonable limits on non-economic damages, will bring justice to deserving patients and help keep health care costs affordable for the state’s aging population. With medical liability reform, “you provide predictability,” Leek said. “You allow insurance carriers to have a better understanding of what their exposure is and with that they can set premiums that are reasonable.” Leek’s recently introduced legislation is supported by the state business community thanks to the positive impact it would have on health care affordability and reduced medical lawsuit abuse, but still faces a high hurdle of opposition. To read more about the renewed push for…

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