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Comprehensive Reform Bill Introduced in U.S. Congress
On June 6, Congressman Phil Gingery (R-GA) introduced The Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare Act (The HEALTH Act, H.R. 2580) to fix our broken medical liability system. This comprehensive reform legislation includes unlimited compensation for economic damages and places reasonable limits on non-economic damages. Doctors for Medical Liability Reform Chairman Stuart L. Weinstein, M.D. hailed the legislation and called on Congress to heed the will of the American people who support these reform measures in overwhelming numbers.
Read the full statement by Stuart L. Weinstein, M.D. here.
Congress can also heed the overwhelming mass of evidence supporting commonsense medical liability reform. That mountain of evidence just grew larger with a new meta-study (a study of studies) by scholars at The Lister Hill Center for Health Policy at the University of Alabama and The Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham.
According to lead author Leonard J. Nelson III, the rates of increase in insurance premiums definitely “are lower” in states that place reasonable limits on non-economic damages. The study found that such limits reduced premiums for general practitioners, general surgeons and OB/GYNs by 13 to 17 percent in the short term and 40 to 58 percent over a longer time period.
Read the executive summary of the meta-study here.
A Faustian Bargain In Pennsylvania?
The medical liability crisis in Pennsylvania has grown so bad that State Representative Josh Shapiro has introduced a bill offering massive tuition subsidies of $100,000 to young doctors in an attempt to prevent them from fleeing the state. Like all Faustian bargains, however, this one comes with a catch: they have to stay and practice in that state’s “hellish” legal climate for 10 years. Any less, and they have to pay it all back – with interest.
With 92 percent of all the physicians who train in Pennsylvania high-tailing it out of there upon graduation, and 41 percent of the state’s doctors planning on retiring within the next decade, it’s certainly worth a try. But medical liability reform would be cheaper and more effective.
Read more about Pennsylvania’s medical liability crisis here.
Texas Lawyers Trolling for Clients
Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry’s veto of medical liability reform in that state has caught the attention of Texas personal injury attorneys, who definitely recognize a good opportunity when they see one. As reported in the Oklahoman, the Texas firm of Miller Curtis & Weisbrod is now “fishing for business [in Oklahoma] the way a Texas angler lures trout.”
As the Oklahoman says, “Wading across the Red River is lucrative and perhaps necessary for Texas barristers” now that their own revenue stream has been dried up by Texas’s dramatically successful medical liability reforms.
But while Texas’s personal injury lawyers are having a tough time, the good citizens of Texas are enjoying vastly improved access to medical care as doctors flood back into the state, with applications to the Texas Medical Board jumping 57% above last year’s record highs, which were 34% above the year before.
One wonders where our distinguished members of the Texas trial bar would go trolling for clients if we passed national medical liability reform—perhaps across the Rio Grande to Mexico.
Read The Oklahoman editorial here.
Read more about Texas’s dramatically successful medical liability reform here.
An Eloquent Plea for Sanity
Herewith we offer up an eloquent plea for sanity in Arizona, where special interest groups killed medical liability reform despite an ever worsening crisis in that state. Chic Older, executive vice president of the Arizona Medical Association, highlights the closing of the Phoenix Birthing Center at the end of this month because they can’t afford their insurance premiums; a surgeon who will likely be sued for charity work; and the rapidly deteriorating condition of Arizona’s emergency departments, where specialists have been driven away by out-of-control litigation.
Read Chic Older’s full statement in the Arizona Republic here.