Archives: January 2011

January 2011 Newsletter

Protect Patients Now Volume 6, Issue  1 JANUARY 2011 Newsletter E-Newsletter Special points of interest: HCLA/PPN Testifies on Capitol Hill Introducing…the HEALTH Act Stating Support for Reform Medical Liability: Crisis on the Horizon? Is Medical Liability Reform on Georgia Legislators’ Mind? HCLA/PPN Testifies on Capitol Hill The new leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives put medical liability reform in the spotlight last week, dedicating the first hearing in the House Judiciary Committee to fixing our nation’s broken liability system. The committee invited HCLA/PPN spokesperson, Stuart L. Weinstein, MD, to testify at the hearing, titled, “Medical Liability Reform- Cutting Costs, Spurring Investment, Creating Jobs.” The timing and focus of the hearing emphasized how seriously the House of Representatives is taking medical lawsuit abuse and the practice of defensive medicine. “There is no question that medical lawsuit abuse is undermining both our healthcare system and the doctor-patient relationship,” said Dr. Weinstein in prepared testimony. “Medical liability has devolved from a system designed to protect patients rights and improve the quality of health care, to a system designed to reward personal injury lawyers.” Dr. Weinstein called on the Congress to “create a climate for patient centered care by reforming the medical liability…

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Medical liability premiums steady, but big extremes remain

An annual survey shows caps in some states helped keep rates down, but a higher percentage of premiums rose in 2010 than in 2009. Physicians paid about the same for medical liability insurance premiums in 2010 as in 2009, with 67% of rates remaining stable across the nation, according to the annual Medical Liability Monitor survey. An American Medical Association policy research report issued in December 2010 said the 67% figure was the largest percentage of stagnant premiums in recent years. Although most rates remained stable, 14.1% of premiums rose in 2010 compared with 6% in 2009. "While the overall picture is positive compared to a few years ago, there was a slight uptick in premium increases in 2010 — the first in seven years," said AMA President Cecil B. Wilson, MD. "The medical liability insurance market bears close monitoring for further signals that changes in the legal environment, including reversals of state tort reforms, could be placing pressure on insurers to raise premiums." Tort reforms — or a lack of them — have created a disparate playing field among states, leading to premium relief or nightmares, depending on where doctors practice. Texas internists, for example, paid about $15,000 in…

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Eight ideas for the 2011 Legislature

The General Assembly gathers this week facing a deficit of well over $1 billion. Across-the-board budget cuts are no longer sufficient to bridge the budget gap. Georgia needs more innovative, transformative ideas. The budget would appear to limit the state’s options, but there are still several progressive reforms that won’t break the bank. Tax reform: Pro-growth tax reforms that shift taxes to consumption and away from taxing work and investment would improve Georgia’s competitive position without costing money. Simplifying the tax code would also have positive effects. Finally, providing local governments with the flexibility, with voter approval, to temporarily shift sales tax proceeds to operations could avoid damaging property tax increases. Regulatory reform: In 2006, Gov. Sonny Perdue signed an executive order creating the Governor’s Small Business Regulatory Reform Initiative, putting in place a process to ensure proper review of new regulations. But Georgia can and should be much more proactive in identifying existing regulations that are outdated, burdensome or redundant and need updating or elimination. Georgia’s new governor should expand the scope of this initiative and enlist the help of Georgia’s small businesses. Pension reform: Nearly every public pension fund has outperformed Georgia’s over the past decade. A task…

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