||Special points of interest:
On June, 22, the Senate will be holding hearings on legislation sponsored by Senators Enzi (R-WY) and Bauchus (D-MT) that would provide funding for a health courts pilot project, as well as on the “MEDiC” bill sponsored by Senators Clinton (D-NY) and Obama (D-IL) (See “Sen. Clinton Admits…” below).
Despite last month’s Senate filibuster, Congress has vowed to continue the fight in support of comprehensive medical liability reform legislation. Talk on the Hill is that the House of Representatives will take up this issue again sometime this summer. And some in the Senate hope to re-visit medical liability reform before the campaign season gets into full swing.
Protect Patients Now is encouraged by continued support on Capitol Hill, where a clear majority in both the House and the Senate want to see reform passed. And leading up to the mid-term elections, PPN will continue to expand its grassroots campaign to educate the American people on the continuing crisis of lawsuit abuse. We recently mailed our candidate pledge to all Senate candidates and Senators up for re-election in November. Stay tuned for exciting new developments and ways that you can help move this vital issue forward.
Sen. Clinton Admits Lawsuits Harm Patient Health Care
In a startling admission in a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama write that high premiums “are forcing physicians to give up performing certain high-risk procedures, leaving patients without access to a full range of medical services.”
As DMLR Chairman Stuart L. Weinstein, M.D. responds in this press release, “We’re glad that Senator Clinton has finally seen the light and is willing to admit that medical liability lawsuits undermine patient health care, but her proposed ‘MEDiC’ legislation …does nothing to address the fundamental problem and little to stem the mounting crisis.”
Read Dr. Weinstein’s full response to Senators Clinton and Obama.
Emergency in the ER
Three reports released by the Institute of Medicine detail a nationwide crisis in Emergency Care, and recommend that Congress pass medical liability reform to help alleviate the shortage of on-call physicians available to treat patients suffering a medical emergency.
You can read NPR’s compelling report, “Study: Emergency Rooms at ‘Breaking Point” describing the mounting ER crisis. Dr. Patrick O’Neal gives an account of his frantic search for an ER to treat a child who sustained head trauma.
“‘The first hospital — which was the closest — we radioed and indicated what we had,’ O’Neal recalls. ‘We were told that they were on diversion because they did not have a neurosurgeon available.” Specialists have begun avoiding emergency-room duty because many uninsured patients can’t pay, and because of the cost of malpractice insurance.
Diverted from a second ER they finally found one that would admit them….45 minutes away. Read the full story here.
Meritless Lawsuits, Anyone?
In his new study published by the Manhattan Institute, George Mason economist Alex Tabarrok lays waste to trial lawyer contentions that greedy insurance companies are the cause of rising medical liability premiums and points a direct finger at meritless lawsuits instead. The full study can be found here.
We particularly like the way the study’s author skewers the “price gouging” thesis in a related Wall Street Journal Op-Ed. Noting that one of the nation’s largest insurers withdrew from the market, he asks, “Were the profits from all that gouging just too much for St. Paul’s guilty conscience?” And given that almost half of doctors are insured through doctor-owned insurance companies, “Are the doctors gouging themselves?”
Study: Hard Caps Decrease Premiums
Asked by the Annals of Family Medicine to comment on a recent study on medical liability, Dr. Weinstein wrote: “Most compelling for the current debate in Washington is the author’s finding that hard economic caps dramatically decreased premiums for the high-risk specialty of obstetrics, with average premiums 33% lower in states with such caps.”
Read Dr. Weinstein’s complete commentary.