Physician to Prescribe Patient Protection Solutions as HHS Secretary

Congressman Tom Price (R-Ga.), an orthopaedic surgeon, has long prescribed solutions to remedy the nation’s medical liability crisis, and as the new Secretary of Health and Human Services he could continue his efforts to implement a cure.

Throughout his tenure in Congress, Price has supported passage of the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act. Modeled after the successful reforms in California, the HEALTH Act would provide fair compensation to patients, allow physicians to remain in practice treating patients, and keep health care costs lower by limiting meritless lawsuits.

Additionally, in both 2009 and 2011, Price introduced the Health Care OverUse Reform Today (HealthCOURT) Act to protect physicians and other health professionals from liability if they followed “best practice” guidelines and provide grants to states to create administrative health care tribunals, while preserving the ability of a plaintiff to file a claim with a state court after administrative remedies are exhausted.

More recently, in 2015, Price voted in favor of a wider health care bill that included a provision to protect against the potential abuse of health care quality measures and payment methodologies. The language, taken from the Standard of Care Protection Act, ensures that federal health care guidelines and regulations will not unintentionally open up new avenues for the pursuit of meritless lawsuits.
With a focus throughout the election cycle on reducing health care costs, once confirmed, Price is likely to put patient protection efforts at the top of his agenda.

To read more about Congressman Price’s nomination for Secretary of Health and Human Services, click here.

Proven Liability Reforms Reduce Lawsuit Abuse – and the Deficit

Comprehensive liability reforms have long reduced frivolous lawsuits at the state level, but the Congressional Budget Office has again analyzed deficit reduction options and concluded that medical liability reforms could kill two problems with one initiative.

The recently released report, titled “Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2017-2026,” uses proven state based reforms as a basis for its analysis, including reasonable limits on non-economic damages, implementation of a fair-share rule, a reduction in the statute of limitations, and limits on excessive attorney fees.

The CBO found that implementing such reforms would reduce mandatory spending by $55 billion between 2017 and 2026, and result in a $2 billion savings in discretionary spending, including health care spending for current federal employees, over the same ten year period.

“Combined with the effect on revenues of the reduction in premium tax credits for coverage purchased through the marketplaces, [medical liability reforms] would increase federal tax revenues by about $7 billion over the next 10 years,” the CBO estimates.

Such reforms have a long history of improving patient access to care and more importantly for the purpose at hand, have been demonstrated as offering billions in savings to the American taxpayer, and the HCLA encourages the next Congress and Administration to seriously consider these initiatives as they tackle deficit reduction and health care improvement efforts in the coming years. To read the CBO report in full, click here.

Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Gain, Patients Lose (Access to Care)

Ten years ago, there was a sunny outlook on Florida’s liability climate after then-Governor Jeb Bush signed comprehensive medical liability reforms into place. Since then, the benefits of the laws have been eroded, and the tides have turned against patients and in favor of personal injury attorneys exploiting the system for their own gain.

As recently reported in this newsletter, state courts struck down reasonable limits on non-economic damages in November of this year, and a State Supreme Court decision is all that stands between tipping the scales fully in favor of personal injury attorneys.

That led the American Tort Reform Association to list Florida fourth in its 2016-2017 Judicial Hellholes ranking, giving it the unwanted designation as having one of the most unfair civil courts in the nation.

Florida personal injury attorneys have done much of the behind the scenes work to support patient-unfriendly policies, contributing $6.2 million to state political campaigns and super PACs in the 2016 election cycle, according to advocacy group Sick of Lawsuits Florida.

Spokeswoman Julie Griffiths said that “Florida’s political system is becoming increasingly dominated by personal injury lawyer influence. The massive influx of campaign contributions encourages lawmakers to promote personal injury lawyer interests — namely, finding more ways to sue.”

To read more about the dire situation in Florida leading to personal injury attorney gains at the expense of patients, click here.

Wishing You Happy Holidays – and a Healthy New Year

The holiday season is here, and Protect Patients Now wishes you and your family a healthy and happy New Year.

While medical liability reform could face a more promising future in Washington following the recent election cycle, we will stay involved as key influencers on the need for its inclusion in next year’s efforts to strengthen our health care system, reduce our deficit, and increase access to care.

We thank you for your continued support and look forward to working with you in 2017. Together, we can Protect Patients Now and stop medical lawsuit abuse.