Protect Patients Now

Volume 4, Issue 10 OCTOber 2009 Newsletter


Special points of interest:

New Poll Shows Americans Want Medical Liability Reform
CBO Concludes that Medical Liability Reform Reduces Health Care Costs
Paging Dr. Weinstein

New Poll Shows Americans
Want Medical Liability Reform

A new poll released this week by the Health Coalition on Liability and Access, a strategic partner of Protect Patients Now, shows that the public overwhelmingly supports meaningful medical liability reform and believes it should be included in health care reform legislation passed by the Congress. According to the poll, 62% of those surveyed responded that they want their elected representatives in Washington to support medical liability reform, and 69% believe that reform should be included in health care legislation.

Further, 72% of survey respondents were concerned that a lack of doctors might impact the availability and quality of the care they receive, 70% support reform that includes reasonable limits on non-economic damages, and 68% favor a law that limits personal injury lawyers’ fees.

The public has voiced their support for medical liability reform loud and clear. It’s time for Congress to listen to their constituents.

Read the complete poll results here.

CBO Concludes that Medical Liability
Reform Reduces Health Care Costs

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released its estimate on the cost savings of medical liability reform, and the amount is more than just chump change. After previously stating that benefits of liability reform would be limited, they acknowledged this month that medical liability reform would in fact lower health care costs across the board.

In a letter to Senator Orrin Hatch, the CBO states that liability reforms that include limits on non-economic damages and statutes of limitations on lawsuits, among other parameters, would produce an $11 billion savings in national health care spending. It would also decrease the federal budget deficit by $54 billion over 10 years, due to savings from Medicaid, Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

Reforming our medical liability system would catch the low-hanging fruit of health savings – but many believe the CBO estimates are conservative, and place the savings in the hundreds of billions. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Lawrence McQuillan of the Pacific Research Institute does a full accounting of the savings – putting the benefits at $242 billion per year, or 10% of total health care spending.

Even if the CBO estimate is on the conservative end, implementing medical liability reform would be the first step to reducing costs and keeping health care affordable and accessible to patients. Click here to read the CBO letter, and here for the Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Paging Dr. Weinstein

Protect Patients Now’s own Dr. Weinstein has been in the national headlines recently, providing leadership on the fight to include medical liability reform in health care legislation to reduce costs and preserve patient access to care.

In a recent article about changes OB/GYNs are making to their practices due to liability fears, Dr. Weinstein agreed that defensive medicine is widespread and can only be stopped by fixing the liability system. While generally known as the practice of ordering unnecessary tests and consultations, Dr. Weinstein said that defensive medicine can also mean choosing to practice outside of an emergency setting or avoiding certain procedures – denying patients access to the care they need. To read more about how liability fears are affecting the way doctors practice medicine, click here.

And on the Senate Floor last week, Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona quoted Dr. Weinstein’s examination of who really pays for the excessive insurance premiums levied on doctors – the patients.

Senator Kyl stated:

“Dr. Stuart Weinstein, the former president of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, has written about the extra cost of delivering a baby because of the high costs of these premiums. If a doctor delivers 100 babies a year and pays $200,000 for medical liability insurance, ‘$2,000 of the delivery cost for each baby goes to pay the cost of the medical liability premium,’ Dr. Weinstein wrote. So the costs of this insurance, passed on to patients, are real.”

To read more about Senator Kyl’s support for medical liability reform, click here.


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