Protect Patients Now

Volume 6, Issue 4 APRIL 2011 Newsletter


Special points of interest:

HCLA/PPN Returns to Capitol Hill
Share Your Medical Lawsuit Abuse Story
Take Action – Contact Congress in Support of the HEALTH Act
Red River Reform
New England Journal of Medicine Talks Tort Reform

HCLA/PPN Returns to Capitol Hill

The HCLA and Protect Patients Now had another chance to educate lawmakers on the need for comprehensive medical liability reform when the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing earlier this month titled, “The Cost of the Medical Liability System Proposals for Reform, including H.R. 5, the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2011.”

Troy M. Tippett, MD, a Florida neurosurgeon representing the HCLA, emphasized to committee members that “our medical liability system is broken and it is time to protect patients now by passing H.R. 5 and passing it quickly.”

With neurosurgery topping the list of physicians most likely to be targeted by personal injury lawyers, Dr. Tippett understands the consequences of inaction. As he told Congress, “In the years ahead, we can expect this kind of avoidance behavior will inevitably lead to increasing shortages of doctors, particularly in high-risk specialties.”

The HCLA/PPN have testified at both Congressional hearings held this year, putting the grassroots efforts by our patients and physicians on display in Washington. To read Dr. Tippett’s full testimony, click here.

Share Your Medical Lawsuit Abuse Story

Protect Patients Now is collecting personal stories about medical lawsuit abuse to share with supporters of reform on Capitol Hill. Specifically, we are looking for stories about: blatantly frivolous medical liability lawsuits; situations where personal injury lawyers are putting their own self interests ahead of their clients’; instances where the fear of lawsuits resulted in a healthcare practitioner retiring early or otherwise reducing services; etc. If you have any examples you are willing to share with PPN, please contact us.

Take Action – Contact Congress in Support of the HEALTH Act

In the next few weeks, the House Energy & Commerce Committee will meet to consider and approve H.R. 5, the HEALTH Act. This is the last step before this crucial bill heads to the full House of Representatives for a vote.

If your Member of Congress is on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, you can call, e-mail, or tweet to urge them to support H.R. 5 as it was introduced (see below for committee members). Encourage your friends to do the same by posting a badge on your Facebook page.

Click here to Contact Congress now and ask your representative to cosponsor and support comprehensive medical liability reform that will lower costs, preserve access to care, and restore balance to our medical liability system. With your help, we can put an end to medical lawsuit abuse. Thank you for your continued support!

House Energy & Commerce Committee
Republican Members, 112th Congress
Fred Upton (MI)
Joe Barton (TX)
Cliff Stearns (FL)
Ed Whitfield (KY)
John Shimkus (IL)
Joseph R. Pitts (PA)
Mary Bono Mack (CA)
Greg Walden (OR)
Lee Terry (NE)
Mike Rogers (MI)
Sue Myrick (NC)
John Sullivan (OK)
Tim Murphy (PA)
Michael Burgess (TX)
Marsha Blackburn (TN)
Brian P. Bilbray (CA)
Charles F. Bass (NH)
Phil Gingrey (GA)
Steve Scalise (LA)
Bob Latta (OH)
Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA)
Gregg Harper (MS)
Leonard Lance (NJ)
Bill Cassidy (LA)
Brett Guthrie (KY)
Pete Olson (TX)
David McKinley (WV)
Cory Gardner (CO)
Mike Pompeo (KS)
Adam Kinzinger (IL)
Morgan Griffith (VA)
Democrat Members, 112th Congress
Henry A. Waxman (CA)
John D. Dingell (MI)
Edward J. Markey (MA)
Edolphus Towns (NY)
Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ)
Bobby L. Rush (IL)
Anna G. Eshoo (CA)
Eliot L. Engel (NY)
Gene Green (TX)
Diana DeGette (CO)
Lois Capps (CA)
Michael F. Doyle (PA)
Jane Harman (CA)
Jan Schakowsky (IL)
Charles A. Gonzalez (TX)
Jay Inslee (WA)
Tammy Baldwin (WI)
Mike Ross (AR)
Anthony D. Weiner (NY)
Jim Matheson (UT)
G. K. Butterfield (NC)
John Barrow (GA)
Doris O. Matsui (CA)

Red River Reform

After Texas passed sweeping medical liability reforms in 2003, many personal injury lawyers fled across the Red River north to Oklahoma where their chances for a big payday were much better.

Fortunately, Oklahoma has passed a series of reforms that will put an end to medical lawsuit abuse and transform the health care system into one that is patient friendly.

Governor Mary Fallin signed several reforms into law this month, including a $350,000 limit on non-economic damages and the elimination of joint and several liability.

“I’m thrilled to be able to sign into law measures which will directly address skyrocketing legal fees, protect our doctors, and help to bring more jobs and businesses into Oklahoma while still protecting the rights of plaintiffs and those who have suffered injuries,” Governor Fallin said.

These comprehensive measures build upon a previously passed bill that require an expert witness to rule on the merit of a lawsuit before it moves forward.

With patient costs increasing and physicians fleeing to other states, the Sooner State couldn’t afford to wait any longer to enact proven reforms. To read more about the new reforms, click here.

New England Journal of Medicine Talks Tort Reform

A new study by the New England Journal of Medicine focuses on taking medical liability reform in a new direction through nontraditional approaches, and includes recognition that reasonable limits on non-economic damages continue to yield lower costs for patients and increased access to care.

The study, titled “New Directions in Medical Liability Reform,” found that “the most effective traditional measure has proven to be caps to noneconomic damages which reduce the size of indemnity payments; may modestly constrain the growth of insurance premiums; appear to reduce defensive medicine; and may modestly increase physician supply.”

In states that have enacted reasonable limits on non-economic damages like Texas, California, and Mississippi, patients reap the rewards and receive quality care from physicians who don’t face the threat of medical lawsuit abuse.

While the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act passed in 2010 includes grants for demonstration projects to test new approaches to our broken medical liability system, we can’t forget the proven solutions that will have an immediate and positive impact on health care costs and patient access to care.

To read the full study by the New England Journal of Medicine and the effectiveness of proven and alternative medical liability reforms, click here.

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