Protect Patients Now

Volume 6, Issue 7 July 2011 Newsletter


Special points of interest:

Bipartisan “Gang of Six” Supports Medical Liability Reform
Mississippi on the Mend
From Veto to Victory
Health Courts Bill Introduced in the House
Reaching Out, Protecting Patients

Bipartisan “Gang of Six” Supports Medical Liability Reform

Fortunately for supporters of medical liability reform, the bipartisan “Gang of Six” in the Senate has put together a deficit reduction plan that recognizes the importance of addressing medical liability reform in the ongoing debate over how to reduce our spiraling national debt.

Passage of the HEALTH Act, with reasonable limits on non-economic damages, would lead to $62 billion in savings over the next 10 years.

The proposal by the Gang of Six is the latest of several bipartisan deficit reduction plans to include comprehensive medical liability reform. The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform endorsed medical liability reform in draft proposals late last year. The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Debt Reduction Task Force also noted that limiting non-economic damages in medical liability cases could save billions of dollars over the next 10 years.

“Any serious action on the part of Congress to reduce our national deficit must include medical liability reform, and the HCLA encourages leaders in Washington to take advantage of this key opportunity to fix a liability system that does not serve the needs of patients,” said HCLA Chairman Mike Stinson in a press release.

There is still time to gang up on (or just call, e-mail, or tweet) your Senators and Representatives and urge them to support comprehensive medical liability reform to help reduce our national deficit. Click here to visit our Contact Congress page today and pledge your support.

Mississippi on the Mend

Ten years ago, Mississippi was known as the “lawsuit capital of the world,” and towns with less than 20,000 people and no local obstetrician were the norm.

Today, a new study published in the Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology details how Mississippi is on the mend – and how patients are the beneficiaries.

In the 5-year period after the implementation of medical liability reform, the average number of lawsuits per year against physicians insured by the Medical Assurance Company of Mississippi, the largest carrier in the state, dropped by 227%. At the same time, the number of physicians insured by the carrier increased, and access to care options improved throughout the state.

The study concluded that, “Mississippi’s tort reform laws were associated with a steep drop in lawsuits against MACM-insured physicians, particularly MACM insured ob–gyns, as well as medical liability premium reductions and refunds.”

To read more about how medical liability reform has put Mississippi’s health care system on the road to recovery, click here.

From Veto to Victory

It’s a victory this week for patients in North Carolina, as the State Legislature voted to override Governor Beverly Purdue’s veto of comprehensive medical liability reform.

The bill, which allows for full compensation for medical expenses and lost wages, and places a $500,000 reasonable limit on non-economic damages, has now become law.

North Carolina patients can look to states like Texas and Mississippi for the positive effects of reform that will sweep through the state in coming years, and can likely expect an influx of physicians, greater access to care, and lower health care costs.

To read more about how liability reform went from veto to victory in North Carolina, click here.

Health Courts Bill Introduced in the House

The HEALTH Act may be awaiting a vote by the full House of Representatives, but Congressman Tom Price, a physician from Georgia, isn’t standing still. He’s moved ahead with legislation that would create specialized health courts to more efficiently deal with medical liability lawsuits.

The Health Care OverUse Reform Today (HealthCOURT) Act would protect doctors 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.

Similar health courts in Massachusetts have worked to identify frivolous claims and put an end to them sooner, while also giving deserving patients the benefit of additional medical experts on the tribunal.

While the HCLA remains committed to comprehensive reforms that include reasonable limits on non-economic damages, changes to collateral source laws, and an end to double recovery, we applaud Dr. Price for his work to advance liability reform. To read more about the HealthCOURT Act, click here.

Reaching Out, Protecting Patients

Our nation’s broken medical liability system hurts all Americans, but it’s patient access to care that is threatened the most. Across the nation, patients are finding it harder and harder to get access to vital medical services.

Protect Patients Now and the HCLA are helping physicians who are interested in reaching out to their patients to join us our grassroots effort to protect patients by reforming our nation’s broken medical liability system.

If you are a physician that would like to do more to protect your patients by informing them of how the medical liability crisis affects them and urging them to support comprehensive medical liability reform, you can download our patient outreach flyer to display in your waiting room.

Together, we can stop medical lawsuit abuse and ensure patient access to quality medical care.

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