Archives: July 2018

July 2018 Newsletter

Wisconsin court preserves reforms – and access to care A decision this month by Wisconsin’s state Supreme Court kept intact liability reforms that have placed reasonable limits on noneconomic damages and resulted in lower health care costs for patients and physicians. The court upheld the state’s $750,000 limit on non-economic damages while continuing to guarantee that deserving patients would receive full and unlimited compensation for past and future medical care as well as lost wages. “Today’s Court decision preserves Wisconsin’s balanced medical liability system that has been instrumental in attracting physicians to communities across Wisconsin, while providing assurance to injured patients that they will receive payment for the full amount of a jury’s award of medical expenses, lost wages, and other economic losses,” Wisconsin Hospital Association President Eric Borgerding stated. The state maintains an Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund using assessments charged to physicians, clinics, hospitals and other participants and covers all damages above their primary insurance limits. Premiums paid by physicians to the fund have been dropping since 2014, with rates falling by 34 percent in 2016, 30 percent last year and an anticipated drop of another 30 percent this year. This month’s decision comes as a reversal…

Read More

Kentucky’s legal liability climate leading to higher costs for everyone, lawmakers say

With Kentucky continuing to rank among the worst in the country in terms of legal liability climate, legal liability reforms are at the forefront of legislative discussions for many policymakers in the state. Sen. Ralph Alvarado, a doctor from Winchester, said one of the main issues with Kentucky’s legal liability climate is doctors in the state practicing “defensive medicine,” which he said means health care professionals having to worry more about liability and being sued than the case at hand. “You order tests to look for things that are rare and that are improbable just because if you happen to miss something you’re going to get potentially sued. So, you order the tests for things that are probably unnecessary, that add a lot more cost to health care. You might admit someone to the hospital just in case when it probably doesn’t need to happen,” Alvarado said. While some legal liability measures have passed through the General Assembly in recent years, Alvarado says there is still more work to be done. One initiative in the 2018 session that didn’t see passage was a bill to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November to let voters decide if the…

Read More

AMA’s legal team helps protect medical liability reforms

Medical liability reform is a high state legislative priority for the AMA. Not surprisingly, then, it is also a high priority for the Litigation Center for the American Medical Association and State Medical Societies. Evidence of this is the Litigation Center’s involvement in five active tort reform-related cases before the state Supreme Courts of Kentucky, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon and Texas. And evidence of the Litigation Center’s success is the recent Wisconsin state Supreme Court 5–2 ruling that the state’s $750,000 cap on awards for noneconomic damages did not violate the state constitution. The Wisconsin cap on noneconomic damages is one component of a three-part strategy that has stabilized the state’s medical liability environment. The three elements are: A requirement for most physicians to carry $1 million in liability coverage per occurrence and $3 million in aggregate. The Wisconsin Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund, which is financed via assessments (based on actuarial risk) charged to physicians, clinics, hospitals and other participants and covers all damages above the primary insurance limits. The $750,000 cap on noneconomic damages. Many caps, few guarantees Wisconsin and 30 other states have a cap on noneconomic damages. But the Dairy State is one of just a…

Read More