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Protect Patients Now

Volume 3, Issue 7 JULY 2008 Newsletter


Special points of interest:

PPN/DMLR Sponsor Conference
That Will Not Only Make News – It Will Make a Difference

Protect Patients Now and Doctors for Medical Liability Reform are proud to be leading sponsors of America’s Health Care at Risk: Finding a Cure, a major bi-partisan health care conference that will bring together an extraordinary group of high-level policy makers and experts to find common solutions to this nation’s health care problems.

We’re pleased to say that our own Dr. James Bean, President of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, will be making the compelling case for medical liability reform as essential to any effective overall reform of our Health Care system.

Other speakers at this star-studded event include political pundits Karl Rove and James Carville, former Governor and President of the National Association of Manufacturers John Engler, former Governor and HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, current Florida Senators Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez, American Cancer Society CEO John Seffrin, AARP CEO Bill Novelli, SEIU President Andy Stern …..and many, many others.

You don’t want to miss this exciting and potentially game-changing event. To find out more, and register to attend, you can visit the conference website at

Former Carter Aid Sees the Light on Medical Liability Reform

You know that the evidence against our out of control medical liability system is strong when Jimmy Carter’s Social Security Administration actuary becomes a witness for the prosecution. In an op-ed in the Miami Herald, Dwight K. Bartlett, who worked in the Carter Administration from 1979 to 1981 and as Maryland insurance commissioner from 1993 to 1997, makes the compelling point that if either presidential candidate hopes to control health care costs and to cover the uninsured, he’ll have to reduce the pressures that lead to the widespread practice of defensive medicine.

“Much of the medical care delivered in the U.S. – perhaps 30 to 40 percent – is unnecessary, wasteful, even dangerous,” he says, and one important solution would be “capping awards for noneconomic damage such as pain and suffering.” You can read Mr. Bartlett’s op-ed here.

As for the Presidential candidates, Barack Obama has yet to take Mr. Bartlett’s advice to address this issue, but as this Newsletter has reported, John McCain makes frequent reference to the critical need for medical liability reform. His latest salvo against “endless, frivolous lawsuits” came during the unveiling of his economic and jobs plan in Colorado earlier this month. You can read his plan here.

PPN notes that Mr. Bartlett’s analysis conforms to a study by the Pacific Research Institute, which we highlighted in our April Newsletter, finding that increased health-care costs occasioned by defensive medicine add some 3.4 million Americans to the rolls of the uninsured. You can read the PRI report here.

Patient Access to Care Crisis in Pennsylvania: It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over

Recent small declines in the premiums charged by a couple of insurance carriers in Pennsylvania have led some to the prematurely declaration that the medical liability crisis is over in that state. Of course, these are largely the same people who denied there ever was a medical liability crisis to begin with. As Dr. Elliot Menkowitz points out in an op-ed in the Philadelphia Business Journal, the proposed 4.4% cut by one of these carriers “will have about the same impact as if gasoline dropped a dime per gallon.” OB-GYNs who saw their premiums skyrocket from an average of $37,556 in 2000 to $167,000 today, will still be paying $130,000 more than eight years ago. You can read Dr. Menkowitz’s op-ed here.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania patients are still at risk due to the patient access to care crisis. Currently, the wealthy suburb of Chester County is struggling to replace the trauma center closed down in 2002 because of the liability crisis. The average travel time to a trauma center for injured Chester suburbanites is now 70 to 75 minutes, well beyond the 60-minute “golden hour” that maximizes one’s odds of survival.

Given the continued liability crisis in the Keystone State, however, no center will be built without major subsidies. There are already major insurance subsidies designed to keep Pennsylvania’s remaining doctors from fleeing the state and other subsidies proposed to lure medical students back. At some point, Pennsylvania’s taxpayers may want to ask why they have to foot the bill for a broken medical liability system that benefits personal injury lawyers and their political cronies. You can read an editorial on the trauma center in the West Chester Daily Local News here, and a response by Dr. Robert Poole here.

Speaking of cronies, long time adversary of medical liability reform and friend of the personal injury lawyer-lobby, former Pennsylvania Democratic House Whip Mike Veon, was led away in handcuffs recently as a result of the Attorney General’s investigations into the statewide “Bonusgate” corruption scandal. You can check out a picture of the event at the website of the Patients and Physicians Alliance (PAPA) here.

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