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Protect Patients Now

Volume 3, Issue 5 MAY 2008 Newsletter


Special points of interest:

Medical Liability Reform Helps Cover the Uninsured

A new study by the Perryman Group on the effect of lawsuit reform for Texas residents and patients concludes that 8.5% of the Lone Star State’s economic growth since 1995 is attributable to reform, including $2.6 billion extra in tax revenue and the creation of 499,000 permanent jobs that would not have existed otherwise.

But those interested in reforming our nation’s health system — especially those concerned with covering the uninsured — should pay particular attention to the Perryman study’s finding: that 430,000 additional Texans have health insurance today as a result of the state’s 2003 medical liability reforms. You can read the full study, which covers the wide ranging “domino effect of immediate, positive developments” brought on by medical liability reform here.

The Perryman study adds support to the analysis by the Pacific Research Institute, reported on in the Protect Patients Now newsletter last month, which found that the practice of defensive medicine alone adds some 3.4 million Americans to the rolls of the uninsured. You can read that report here.

McCain Stumps for Medical Liability Reform

In a speech at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain discussed his health care plan, putting special emphasis on the need for medical liability reform that would “eliminate lawsuits directed at doctors who follow clinical guidelines and adhere to patient safety protocols.” You can read about Senator McCain’s speech here.

Blunt Talk in Missouri on Reform

Governor Matt Blunt has been taking to the stump himself in Missouri to tout the success of the medical liability reforms he got passed three years ago. Speaking at a number of events in the state, the Governor has itemized the positive development since 2003, with claims against surgeons, ER doctors, OB-GYNs dropping by more than 70 percent and the average settlement cost down 14 percent in 2006 from the year before. You can read information on the Governor’s remarks here.

Judicial Reversal In Georgia

A Superior Court Judge in Fulton County struck down Georgia’s $350,000 limit on non-economic damages as unconstitutional, claiming that the law gives special protections to the medical profession. The immediate effect of the judge’s decision is limited, as the case has not yet gone to trial and the decision does not apply to other cases. Should the defendents appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court, however, Georgia’s successful medical liability reform –which is already delivering important results – will be in jeopardy. You can read a report on the judge’s decision, here.

Florida’s Legal Climate: From Worse to Worser

Two recent polls conducted by Harris Interactive for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform have found that Florida’s legal climate is continuing to deteriorate, slipping to 36th out of 50 states, because of on-going attacks by the state’s plaintiff’s bar, including multiple legal challenges to the medical liability reforms passed in 2003. “If this weakening of our civil justice system continues,” says Florida Justice Reform Institute president William Large, “it will have far reaching impact beyond the courtroom.” Read the full report here.

Short Takes

  • President Bush highlighted the high cost of defensive medicine in a speech in Missouri, here.
  • A recent study found that medical liability costs for long term care beds dropped from an average of $7,190 in 1998 to $1,270 in 2007 in states that had passed medical liability reform. Read about it here.

Good Reading

  • “Why Doctors Are Heading for Texas,” by Joseph Nixon, in the Wall Street Journal, here.
  • “Mississippi’s Tort Reform Triumph,” by Stephen Moore, in the Wall Street Journal, here.
  • “Reasons Not To Become A Doctor,” by Tara Weiss, in Forbes, here.
  • “A Tale of Two States,” By Ken Kilpatrick, comparing the continuing crisis in Pennsylvania to the turn-around in Texas, here.

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