Protect Patients Now

Volume 4, Issue 11 November 2009 Newsletter


Special points of interest:

PPN Petition Going to US Senate – Last Chance to Sign
Missouri Gives Thanks to Liability Reform
Medical Liability Land Mine
Public Opinion Says It All

PPN Petition Going to US Senate
– Last Chance to Sign

If you haven’t signed PPN’s congressional petition supporting medical liability reform, please due so now. As the health care reform debate begins on the Senate Floor, we are making another push to include as many signatures as possible before delivering this important information to Capitol Hill.

Please take a moment to tell your Senators that medical liability reform must be included in health care reform legislation.

Many thanks to all PPN supporters who signed the petition earlier this year. As reported in this newsletter, more than 14,000 doctors, patients, and concerned citizens from all across the country have signed our petition urging Congress to include medical liability reform in health care legislation. This information was delivered prior to the debate in the Senate Finance Committee.

Make your voice heard. Together, we can stop medical lawsuit abuse.

Click here to sign the PPN Congressional petition today.

Missouri Gives Thanks to Liability Reform

This Thanksgiving, doctors and patients in Missouri are thankful for medical liability reform measures that were signed into law in 2005 and are credited for bringing lawsuits to a new ten year low.

In 2008, 1,215 new claims were filed, the lowest number since 1999. The number of new claims has steadily declined since 2005, when a limit of $350,000 was placed on non-economic damages and certificates of merit became a requirement to any lawsuit filed.

Director of the Missouri State Medical Association, Tom Holloway, explained that the reforms also led to a stabilization or decrease of physicians’ insurance premiums – and the savings have been passed along to patients.

“Millions of dollars that five years ago were going to insurance premiums are now going into the health care system to provide better access,” Holloway said.

While the reforms face a Supreme Court challenge, the benefits and cost savings can’t be denied. To read more about how liability reforms are working for patients in Missouri, click here.

Medical Liability Land Mine

With big promises of reform and recognition of a medical liability crisis from President Obama and other congressional leaders, the House health care reform bill that passed earlier this month was, at best, smoke and mirrors and, at worst, a medical liability land mine.

A Wall Street Journal editorial this month details the stealthy language disguised to look like medical liability reform. Buried in the House bill was a provision that provides “incentive payments” to states that develop alternative medical liability laws, but – here’s the landmine – a state only qualifies if its law does NOT limit attorneys’ fees or place limits on non-economic damages.

Yes, that’s right. States are being discouraged from enacting the one reform that has a proven track record of success at reigning in medical lawsuit abuse and preserving patient access to care. And the deep pockets of politically powerful personal injury lawyers, who often take more than 50% of a patient’s award or settlement, are protected.

To read more about the “tort bomb” that was buried in health care reform legislation, click here.

Public Opinion Says It All

This fall, poll after poll has been released citing the overwhelming support for medical liability reform. Here’s a breakdown recent polls showing that Americans, regardless of political affiliation, favor medical liability reform. Congress – need we say more?

  • The HCLA, a strategic partner of Protect Patients Now, reported last month that 69% of respondents to a recent poll believe that liability reform should be included in health care legislation, and 72% believe their access to affordable, high-quality medical care is threatened because medical lawsuit abuse is driving good doctors out of the practice of medicine.
  • A recent Associated Press poll found that 54% of Americans were in favor of making it more difficult to sue doctors in order to reduce frivolous lawsuits, and 59% believed that half of all medical tests were unnecessary and only performed to avoid the threat of a lawsuit.
  • Common Good, an organization dedicated to legal reform, found in their poll that 83% percent of voters want Congress to address reform of the medical malpractice system as part of any health care reform plan. Seventy- two percent of those surveyed think the fear of being sued often changes the way doctors deal with patients.
  • A Zogby poll published in Health Affairs found that the single issue that had would most effectively tip public support in favor of health care reform was the addition of medical liability reform. In their poll, only 27% of respondents favored the health care bill as reported out of the Senate Finance Committee, but inclusion of liability reforms drove the level of support to 44% — the highest of any single issue.
  • Jackson Healthcare conducted a survey of physicians, and found that a staggering 85% see litigation threats as their primary hindrance to treating their patients as they see fit.


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