November 2012 Newsletter

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  • November 18, 2012
Protect Patients Now

Volume 7, Issue 11 November 2012 Newsletter


Special points of interest:

HCLA Working to Include Medical Liability Reform in Deficit Reduction Talks
Pre-Trial Screening Panels Upheld in New Hampshire, Expediting Liability Claims
Congratulations are in Order…

HCLA Working to Include Medical Liability Reform in Deficit Reduction Talks


While Congress is expected to address drastic cuts in spending and increases in taxes before the end-of-year “fiscal cliff,” a long term plan may be in the works to address our nation’s deep deficits – and the HCLA will be working to be part of the solution.

Any options that offer significant cost savings – including medical liability reform – remain on the table for a grand bargain between Democrats and Republicans.

While incremental reforms like health courts, early offers, and safe harbors for the practice of evidence-based medicine are a few compromises that have been recently mentioned that could be included in any efforts to reduce the deficit, the Health Coalition on Liability and Access continues to work towards proven, comprehensive reform measures.

The HCLA has encouraged states to experiment with medical liability reform options, but Chairman Mike Stinson said in an article in Inside Health Policy they are all theoretical at the moment and have not been proven to be effective or create health care savings as he says reasonable limits on non-economic damages have. Stinson says he would prefer for the federal government not to rush into something where it does not know what the implications may be.

With the agenda of the 113th Congress quickly taking shape around deficit reduction efforts, the HCLA will work with members on both sides of the aisle to move forward on comprehensive proposals that will not only rein in federal spending, but also ensure our health care system remains accessible and affordable for our nation’s patients.

To read more about how medical liability reforms could be included in deficit reduction packages, click here.

Pre-Trial Screening Panels Upheld in New Hampshire, Expediting Liability Claims


The New Hampshire Supreme Court this month upheld expert pre-trial medical liability screening panels that were enacted in 2007 and have been successful in reducing the number of frivolous lawsuits and expediting legitimate claims.

In New Hampshire, the panel must consist of a retired judge, an attorney and one or two physicians. If the panel decides that the physician is not liable, the plaintiffs still have the legal right to continue on to trial. The state Supreme Court has now left it up to Superior Court judges to decide on an individual basis precisely how much information about the panel process the jury in the resulting trial should be allowed to hear.

Screening panels of experts like those in New Hampshire are in place in 16 other states, and may help to speed the resolution of some medical liability claims. To read more about the ruling, click here.

Congratulations are in Order…

…For two medical liability reform allies in Congress that were supported by the HCLA this past election cycle. Earlier this month, Congressman Jim Matheson (D-UT) was elected to a seventh term in the House, and Dean Heller (R-NV) was elected to his first full term in the Senate, following his appointment in 2011.

Congressman Matheson has been a champion of medical liability reform during his tenure, and most recently introduced an amendment to the HEALTH Act that would provide liability protections to volunteer physicians serving during a federally-declared disaster.

We look forward to working with both Senator Heller and Congressman Matheson on advancing medical liability reform in the 113th Congress.