March 2014 Newsletter

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  • March 31, 2014
March 2014 Newsletter
Protect Patients Now

Volume 9, Issue 3 March 2014 Newsletter


Special points of interest:

Medical Liability Reform Saves Lives, Saves Costs
Leading in Liability Payouts Leaves Patients Behind
HCLA Sets Vision for 2014 in Annual Meeting

Medical Liability Reform Saves Lives, Saves Costs

Coming together on bipartisan medical liability reform legislation are Congressmen Andy Barr (R-KY) and Ami Bera (D-CA), who earlier this month introduced H.R. 4106, the Saving Lives, Saving Costs Act. The Congressmen claim the bill will lower health care costs and improve patient care by reducing medical lawsuit abuse and using evidence-based guidelines developed by doctors.

The unlikely allies are not only on different sides of the aisle, but come from what has traditionally been separate sides of the issue – as Bera is a physician and Barr is an attorney.

The Saving Lives, Saving Costs Act will offer physicians who document adherence to certain evidence-based clinical-practice guidelines a safe harbor from medical liability litigation.

“The bipartisan Saving Lives, Saving Costs Act is a practical way to bring down the skyrocketing cost of health care, and to make the system work better for patients that people from both parties can get behind,” said Bera in a press release. “As a doctor, I know that physicians want to do what’s best for their patients, and promoting evidence-based medicine will help us do that.”

HCLA and Protect Patients Now appreciate Congressmen Barr’s and Bera’s efforts to address the ongoing problems with our medical liability system, and look forward to working with them to make improvements in the legislation in the future. You can click here to read the Saving Lives, Saving Costs Act in full.

Leading in Liability Payouts Leaves Patients Behind

Last year, aggressive personal injury lawyers in New York contributed to massive medical liability payouts, potentially increasing costs and reducing access to care as fewer physicians choose to practice in such a litigious environment.

Liability lawsuit awards paid out almost $690 million in New York in 2013, nearly twice the amount paid out in Pennsylvania, where $357 million was paid.

The study by Diederich Healthcare, a medical liability insurer, was reported by the Washington Post and details the year over year changes in liability costs and payouts.


(source: Diederich Healthcare)

According to the study, 2013 was the first year since 2003 that there was an increase in both total payout amounts and total number of payouts – evoking memories of medical liability crises that saw physicians fleeing highly litigious states, such as Texas before it enacted its reforms. Not coincidentally, per capita payouts in New York and Pennsylvania are now more than 12 and eight times higher, respectively, than in Texas.

It remains clear that much more needs to be done to reign in medical lawsuit abuse through effective reform of our broken liability system. Only through these efforts at both the state and federal level will we be able to create a system that truly provides justice for patients and health care providers alike. Click here to read coverage of the study in the Washington Post, and here for infographics from Diederich Healthcare depicting medical liability payouts in 2013.

HCLA Sets Vision for 2014 in Annual Meeting

With incremental medical liability reform bills pending before Congress, HCLA members met in Washington this month to discuss state-level developments pertaining to liability reform and hear from liability reform experts and legislative staff members on the road to reform in 2014.

Speakers at this year’s Annual Meeting included Francis Brooke of Congressman Andy Barr’s (R-KY) office, Caitlin Huey-Burns of RealClearPolitics, Kristin Schleiter of the American Medical Association, and Victor Christy of Californians Allied for Patient Protection.

Francis Brooke, representing Congressman Barr, spoke of the recent introduction of the Saving Lives, Saving Costs Act and the positive outlook for the bill’s passage through the House.

Additional topics on the agenda at this year’s meeting included an update on the 2014 political environment, legislative achievements at the state level, and the MICRA ballot initiative expected in California later this year.

“While several states took action this year to protect patients and increase access to medical care, personal injury attorneys continue to oppose reasonable reforms and more work remains in the fight to pass comprehensive medical liability reform at the federal level,” Chairman Mike Stinson said.

“The HCLA will continue to strengthen our efforts in 2014 towards the goals of reducing health care costs, eliminating the practice of defensive medicine, and preserving patient access to care for all Americans.”

We thank our engaging speakers for their participation, and all of our members who were in attendance.