November 2016 Newsletter

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  • November 29, 2016


Electing an opportunity for medical liability reform

With the election giving Republicans a clear lead in Congress, and less than subtle hints that health care reform remains a priority, there is renewed hope that medical liability reform will be on the agenda in the 115th Congress.

Earlier this year, Republicans gave voters a preview of their plans as their Health Care Task Force released proposals and outlines of initiatives – making liability reform a cornerstone of a health care system that will make services affordable and accessible to all Americans.

Leading the Republican Health Care Task Force was Congressman Paul Ryan, who was re-elected this month as Speaker of the House and is expected to follow through on changes to the current health care system.

“We know that comprehensive medical liability reform that includes caps on non-economic damages will improve patients’ access to quality care while reducing the overall cost of health care in America,” the Republican Health Care Task Force report states. “Our plan will include liability reform that includes caps on non-economic damage awards, ensuring plaintiffs can recover full economic damages and that patients will not have their damages taken away by excessive lawyer contingency fees.”

Regardless, personal injury lawyers and their advocates continue to downplay the need for a medical liability fix. Recent reports issued by Americans for Insurance Reform are additional evidence that medical liability reform may soon take center stage. Their arguments remain the same, but Protect Patients Now readers know that their efforts put the interests of personal injury lawyers over patients and physicians.

Working with both Republicans and Democrats, the HCLA will continue to advance medical liability reform efforts and work in a bipartisan manner to protect patients’ access to affordable care.

To read the full analysis of medical liability reform in the Republican health care plan, click here.

Illinois’ voters take steps toward defeating jackpot justice

Despite a million dollar push from personal injury attorneys set on influencing legal outcomes, voters in Illinois rejected candidates this election season that were seen as friendly to meritless lawsuits.

Citing races where Republican judges were successful against Democratic judges who were backed by beneficiaries of jackpot justice, Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch executive director Travis Akin said that “voters rejected the current system of lawsuit abuse in Illinois.”

Personal injury attorneys have long succeeded in spending large sums in support of candidates that do little to nothing to end medical lawsuit abuse – worsening the situation in “judicial hellholes” like Madison County.

“This election was a change election in many ways,” said Akin. “And in the Fifth Judicial District [of Illinois], voters sent a message that they do not want the status quo. They want judges who will stand up to personal injury lawyers and dismiss abusive lawsuits. They want jobs and opportunities – not more junk lawsuits.”

To read more about the positive trends in Illinois’ justice system, click here.

Florida liability climate turns cloudy after reforms struck down

A second Florida appeals court has changed the forecast on future health care costs and access to care, after ruling that reasonable limits on non-economic damages are not constitutional.

In 2003, Florida patients had good reason to have a sunny outlook on costs and access to care after then-Governor Jeb Bush signed comprehensive reforms into law.

But over ten years later, personal injury attorneys have attacked the laws relentlessly and eroded many of the reforms – and with a ruling expected soon from the State Supreme Court, those reforms could be removed from the books entirely.

In the meantime, Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal rules that the limits are unconstitutional in personal-injury cases, following a similar decision reached earlier by the Fourth District Court of Appeal.

Unless the State Supreme Court rules in a definitive way in support of reasonable limits on non-economic damages, a harsh liability climate could cloud any chance at reducing health care costs for patients and eliminating frivolous lawsuits against physicians.

To read more about the medical liability reforms facing judicial scrutiny in Florida, click here.

Congratulations in order for HCLA leader

A leader’s tireless commitment to the medical industry was recognized by the American Medical Association earlier this month, as Katie Orrico, director of the Washington Office at the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) and Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS), as well as HCLA vice-chair, was presented with the Medical Executive Lifetime Achievement Award.

“A coalition builder, Katie Orrico has demonstrated time and again throughout her career a tireless commitment to patients and physicians alike,” said AMA President Andrew W. Gurman, M.D. “Respected by colleagues for her leadership, mentorship and library of knowledge on policy, legislation and government operations, she is a workhorse for a healthier tomorrow.”

In addition to her advocacy efforts on behalf of medical liability reform and the Health Coalition on Liability and Access, Katie has worked to support the AMA, the Council of Medical Specialty Societies, and the Partnership to Improve Patient Care, and is also a founding member of the Alliance of Specialty Medicine.

On behalf of the HCLA and our grassroots network of patients and physicians, congratulations, Katie!