October 2010 Newsletter

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  • September 29, 2011
Protect Patients Now

Volume 5, Issue  10 OCTOBER 2010 Newsletter


Special points of interest:

Former OMB Director Says Congress Missed the Mark on Liability Reform
Legally Speaking
Jackpot Justice

Former OMB Director Says Congress Missed the Mark on Liability Reform

President Barack Obama’s former director of the Office of Management and Budget is now speaking out about the failure of health care reform legislation to address our nation’s broken medical liability system.

Mr. Orszag writes in The New York Times, “…it does almost nothing to reform medical malpractice laws. Lawmakers missed an important opportunity to shield from malpractice liability any doctors who followed evidence-based guidelines in treating their patients.”

While he briefly dismisses the proven reform measure that has worked in states across the country, placing reasonable limits on non-economic damages (which he confuses with punitive damages), he fully supports a strategy to provide a safe harbor for doctors who follow evidence-based guidelines. He goes on to list several other steps which could be taken to improve “standard medical practice.”

Peter Orszag believes that the health care bill does many things right – but in terms of medical liability reform, he acknowledges it simply missed the mark. To read Mr. Orszag’s column, click here.

Legally Speaking

PPN is pleased to report on some key developments in the continuing fight against personal injury lawyers working to undo state medical liability reform.

In the U.S. District Court for Middle Florida, judges upheld that state’s reasonable limits on non-economic damages and deferred to the determination of a legislative task force that “Florida’s medical malpractice insurance crisis presented an overpowering public necessity requiring the adoption of the liability caps.” The court rejected arguments by personal injury lawyers that the limits violated the Florida and U.S. Constitutions. This will help preserve access to quality medical care, and help control health care costs for Florida patients. To read more about the Florida ruling, click here.

In West Virginia, an amici curiae brief was filed by the West Virginia State Medical Association, as well as the American Medical Association and the Physicians Insurers Association of America – both HLCA members. West Virginia’s limit on non-economic damages is under assault by personal injury lawyers, and these groups expressed support for current law and urged the court to continue to uphold its constitutionality.

West Virginia’s medical liability reforms were passed in 1991, and although they have been challenged several times, they have repeatedly been upheld. To read more about the medical liability climate in West Virginia and this most recent challenge to its reforms, click here.

Jackpot Justice

A new documentary produced by Lawrence McQuillan of the Pacific Research Institute shows how personal injury lawyers have ravaged the health-care industry, targeting certain states for jackpot jury awards.

Mr. McQuillan chronicles the stories of physicians and patients in Philadelphia who have been hit hard by medical lawsuit abuse. Eighteen maternity wards have closed in the Philadelphia area, leaving expectant mothers with a much longer distance to travel to simply see their OB/GYN. It is patients who ultimately pay the price because they have fewer and fewer options, and higher health care costs.

Cited in the documentary is a statistic from a study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that states with reasonable limits on non-economic damages have 12% more physicians per capita than states without a limit – even more incentive for states like Pennsylvania to follow the lead of Texas, where a flood of doctors returned after reforms were enacted.

Our courtrooms have turned into casinos, and the only way to stop this jackpot justice is to enact meaningful reforms that allow our physicians to rightfully treat patients and practice medicine. To watch the documentary Jackpot Justice: More Lawyers, Fewer Doctors, click here.


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