Archives: August 2013

Okla. Gov. Calls Special Session to Deal with Lawsuit Reform Law

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin issued an executive order Monday, calling for a special session of the state legislature to begin Sept. 3. The executive order calls on lawmakers to re-institute components of House Bill 1603, a lawsuit reform package signed into law in 2009. It was passed with bipartisan support and signed into law by then-Gov. Brad Henry, a Democrat. In its June 4 opinion, a majority of the Oklahoma Supreme Court said the Comprehensive Lawsuit Reform Act violates the single subject rule in the state constitution and is unconstitutional “logrolling.” “Logrolling” is the passing of legislation containing multiple subjects. The reform package included class action reforms, a cap on appeals bonds, adoption of summary judgment similar to that allowed in federal lawsuits, joint and several liability reforms, product liability reforms, junk science testimony rules, certificates of merit and a cap on non-economic damages. The law aimed to curb frivolous lawsuits and reduce court costs. “This bill is unconstitutional and void in its entirety,” the Supreme Court’s order stated. Justice Noma Gurich explained that the law’s 90 sections do not reflect a common theme. Fallin, a Republican, this week called on lawmakers to separate the law into appropriate bills, thus…

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Oklahoma State Medical Assocation president: Special session needed now

This summer, the Oklahoma Supreme Court threw out the bipartisan lawsuit reform measure that had been passed in 2009. Gov. Mary Fallin signaled her willingness to call a special session to address this ruling, but some in the Legislature reportedly have cold feet about a special session and would like to wait until next year. Oklahoma’s medical community can’t wait that long. I urge Fallin to call a special session as soon as possible. The reforms passed in 2009, coupled with those passed in 2011, were beginning to pay dividends for Oklahoma physicians, reducing the number of frivolous malpractice claims and setting the stage for reining in the growth of medical liability premiums. These changes were making Oklahoma a friendlier and more attractive practice environment for physicians and their patients. With the court’s decision, however, positive trends are in danger of being reversed. A special session is needed to make sure these important reforms are put back in place as soon as possible. The ruling has opened the floodgates to new potential lawsuits from the past four years. If we wait until the next legislative session to address this issue, without the passage of an emergency clause that requires a…

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Poll Finds New York State Physicians Frustrated by Liability Costs and Mandates

Only 35% of physicians would recommend to their children or other family members that they become physicians and only 22% of physicians would recommend to medical students that they practice in New York State, according to a survey conducted by the Medical Society of the State of New York. The survey of over 800 physician respondents sought to gauge physician perspective of a variety of issues relating to the state of New York’s health care delivery system. “The findings provide additional statistical proof of the frustrations physicians often express that New York State is a very difficult state in which to deliver health care” stated Dr. Sam Unterricht, a Brooklyn ophthalmologist and President of the Medical Society of the State of New York. “This is due to a confluence of a number of factors, including its extraordinarily high liability insurance costs and the large number of practice mandates. At the same time insurers continue to impose additional roadblocks to delivering patient care and continue to reduce, deny and delay payment for necessary care delivered. These problems must be considered and addressed as policymakers hope to assure an adequate health care safety net for the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers…

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