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Is Congress Serious About Medical Liability Reform?
Following President Obama’s remarks in support of medical liability reform during his address to Congress on health care reform, many of us were hopeful that Congress would follow his leadership and include this important issue in legislation. Unfortunately, those hopes were dashed when Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus released his proposal the following week, only mentioning medical liability reform in an expression of a “Sense of the Senate” that there should be consideration of state-based demonstration projects on liability reform. The proposal did not even move to codify or formalize these demonstration projects – it merely expressed support for considering them.
During the second day of the Finance Committee’s consideration of the health care bill, three senators introduced amendments to include meaningful medical liability reforms, which were promptly denied by Senator Baucus, who deemed them out of the committee’s jurisdiction.
DMLR Chairman Stuart L. Weinstein, MD released a statement on the Finance Committee’s proposal, calling it “inadequate” in stopping medical lawsuit abuse.
“While voluntary state demonstration projects may be a step in the right direction, the Senate’s mere expression of support is not enough – they must be formalized and codified into law. Even so, state demonstration projects alone will not do enough to lower health care costs and reduce the practice of defensive medicine,” Weinstein said.
To read Dr. Weinstein’s statement in full, click here.
PPN Delivers Petitions to Capitol Hill
Thanks to members of our Protect Patients Now network, more 14,000 physicians, patients and concerned citizens signed our petition urging Congress to include medical liability reform in any health care reform legislation being considered.
These petitions were delivered to members of the Senate Finance Committee as they were meeting to debate the draft health care reform bill that will come to the Senate floor in the near future.
PPN will continue to collect signatures and deliver them to Congress as this important debate evolves. So if you haven’t yet signed PPN’s congressional petition, please do so now. And don’t forget to pass it along to your family, friends, neighbors and colleagues. By signing the petition, you are doing your part to help end medical lawsuit abuse. Thanks again for your continued support.
New Poll Says 78% Support Medical Liability Reform
A new poll released by Zogby International and the O’Leary Report reaffirms what members of Protect Patients Now have known for a long time – that Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of medical liability reform.
This poll cited the high cost of medical liability insurance, and asked participants if they believed tort reform was necessary. Over 78% of those surveyed agreed, and support reform of our nation’s broken medical liability system.
With liability reform so clearly supported by Americans from all political persuasions, it’s unfortunate that Congress is choosing to ignore these important views. To read more about the poll, click here.
Personal Injury Lawyers Even More Aggressive
A report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform released this month shows that trial lawyers are becoming more aggressive in recruiting clients for medical liability lawsuits.
Television advertisements by personal injury lawyers increased nearly 1400% in four years — from about 10,150 ads in 2004 to more than 156,000 ads in 2008. And not surprisingly, spending reached an all-time high of $62 million in 2008, up from just $3.8 million in 2004.
Lisa Rickard of the Institute for Legal Reform believes that the increase in television ads is evidence that medical liability lawsuits are increasing as well. “Lawsuits are ultimately a business driven by the plaintiffs’ bar, and when you see the marketing of medical malpractice lawsuits exploding like this, it tells you that these lawsuits are a growing sector within the larger lawsuit industry,” Rickard said.
To read the study, click here.
Not to be Missed
Medical liability reform continues to make headlines this month as the health care reform debate continues, evidence that this issue is of growing concern to patients across the country.
Obama’s malpractice on medical lawsuits – An editorial in the Washington Examiner this month rebuffs Obama’s proposal for state-based demonstration projects, citing states where reforms have already been passed (such as Mississippi) as successful demonstration projects that should be a model for federal reform.
Malpractice Fees Break OB/GYNs – A video featured on CNN.com is evidence that liability premiums for physicians remain sky-high A New York OB/GYN who pays nearly $170,000 per year in liability insurance shares her story of how out-of-control premiums are taking a toll on her practice and patients and leading to an increase in defensive medicine. Click here to watch the video.
Malpractice proposal misses mark in health debate – There was roaring applause when President Obama mentioned liability reform in his speech to Congress, but few were clapping when the proposals were rolled out and comprehensive liability reform was nowhere in sight.