August 2013 Newsletter

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  • September 30, 2013
August 2013 Newsletter
Protect Patients Now

Volume 8, Issue 8 August 2013 Newsletter


Special points of interest:

Oklahoma Governor Calls Special Session to Address Liability Reform
Poor Liability Climate Limiting Access to Care in New York

Oklahoma Governor Calls Special Session to Address Liability Reform

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin sees the urgency in heading off an impending access to care crisis, calling state legislators back to work for a special session to enact liability reform.

Following the state Supreme Court decision earlier this summer that struck down liability reforms passed in 2009, uncertainty in the state’s liability climate has threatened to open the floodgates of meritless lawsuits.

“Oklahoma’s lawsuit reform measures are part of what makes this state attractive to businesses and attractive to retaining and recruiting doctors,” Governor Fallin said. “Those laws are now under attack.”

“In the weeks since the court ruled our laws unconstitutional, at least a dozen lawsuits have been reopened against hospitals, doctors and other employers. As lawmakers, we need to act now to protect our businesses and our medical community from frivolous lawsuits and skyrocketing legal costs.”

Dr. Robert McCaffree. President of the Oklahoma Medical Society, understands the need for the Governor to act quickly in calling a special session instead of waiting until February when the legislature is set to resume business.

“…A full year of delay [in passage of a new law] would mean more lawsuits, higher insurance premiums and more delays for patients looking to find a doctor,” McCaffree said.

Unless legislators in Oklahoma address liability reforms immediately, personal injury lawyers will use this opportunity to file claims without merit and drive physicians to states with friendlier liability climates. To read more about the special session called by Governor Fallin to prevent a medical liability crisis throughout the state, click here.

Poor Liability Climate Limiting Access to Care in New York

New York has long been known for alienating physicians and leaving patients with limited health care options, and a new poll of physicians in the state finds that the “frustrating” liability climate will have an impact on future access to care.

Nearly 40 percent of the respondents to the recent poll indicated that medical liability insurance costs consumed at least 10 percent of their practice revenue, and nearly 16 percent indicated that it consumed at least 20 percent of their practice revenue. Over 17 percent of physicians named high liability costs as the biggest impediment to delivering care in New York, while over 22 percent noted it as the second biggest impediment.

These costs led over one-third (34 percent) of the respondents to indicate that they were “seriously considering” retiring from practice in the next two years, and over 37 percent indicated that they plan to reduce the services they deliver over the next two years.

“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.”

“We urge the Legislature and the Governor to carefully consider the findings of this study,” stated Dr. Unterricht. “You cannot have a functioning healthcare system without assuring an adequate supply of physicians to deliver the care patients expect.”

While former New York physicians have found success in states like Texas and Mississippi, patients have not been so lucky and will continue to face higher costs and fewer physicians for critical health care services without liability reforms. Click here to read more about the poll from the Medical Society of the State of New York.