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Best Wishes to President Obama
Protect Patients Now would like to congratulate President Barack Obama on his inauguration and wish him all the best as he takes over the leadership of our country. President Obama will certainly be hearing from Protect Patients Now as the health care debate continues. We will push for medical liability reform to be a part of any comprehensive health care reform legislation to preserve patient access to quality health care and to help control costs.
A new national survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that Americans would also like to see action on health reform. While economic recovery is far-and-away their top concern (73 percent), 43 percent said reforming health care reform should be a top priority, after fighting terrorism (48 percent). To read more about the survey and President Obama’s likely plans for health care reform this year, click here.
Why Mess With A Good Thing?
In the midst of a court challenge to Illinois’ landmark medical liability reform law that was passed in 2005, there is overwhelming evidence that the crisis there is reversing course. In Madison County, located in the southwestern part of the state, medical liability lawsuits are rapidly declining, reaching an all time low. There were only 12 medical liability lawsuits filed in the county in 2008, down from 20 in 2007. Those numbers compare with an all-time high of 61 such cases in 2001.
The number of cases per year has gone steadily downward since 2005, when the Illinois General Assembly voted to protect patient access to care by passing reform laws that include reasonable limits on non-economic damages.
A challenge to the constitutionality of these reforms is pending in the Illinois State Supreme Court, and a ruling by the justices is expected later this year. Clearly, the reforms are working for Illinois patients by reducing lawsuits and keeping doctors in Illinois. Click here to read more.
Hope for Hawaii
The patient access to care crisis has reached a tipping point in Hawaii, with over 100 doctors leaving the island since 2007. The crisis has left the state of Hawaii with a lack of specialty physicians, leaving many patients with few options for care. Dr. Linda Rasmussen, one of four windward Oahu orthopedic surgeons that remain, cites the high cost of liability insurance and low reimbursement rates as the major factors in driving doctors away from Hawaii.
Hoping to make the case for reform during times of budget cuts, Dr. Rasmussen said, “Medical tort reform is an option that does not increase taxes.”
This legislative session, Hawaii lawmakers plan to address the issue and put a stop to doctors fleeing the island state. State Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he plans to try to advance legislation on liability reform.
Karamatsu said he is looking at tax incentives to help offset medical liability insurance costs for doctors in certain medical specialties and to help recruit doctors to rural areas. He said he would also consider — on a trial basis — a $1 million cap on non-economic damages in medical-malpractice lawsuits against doctors in some specialties. Luckily, there’s still hope for patients in Hawaii. You can read more about Hawaii’s plans to advance liability reform here.
Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop
Personal injury lawyers and their political cronies in New Hampshire are challenging medical liability reform laws enacted in 2005 that implement pre-trial mediations and cut down on lawsuits, and they just won’t stop.
They deem the law that mandates mediation panels before medical liability lawsuits go to trial as a “failure.” Doctors and liability insurance companies are urging lawmakers to give the law a chance to work, and in fact it already appears that physicians’ liability insurance rates are going down and doctors are choosing to stay and practice in New Hampshire.
Personal injury lawyers and their sympathizers won’t stop. And neither can we. Protect Patients Now is dedicated to stopping medical lawsuit abuse in New Hampshire and across America. To read more about the situation in New Hampshire, click here.