Today's focus: Health justice, protecting good doctors, and ensuring access to care.
...from the Center for Health Transformation...
As congressional leaders prepare to meet with the White House on health care reform later this week, most Americans believe that civil justice reform should be addressed. And physicians and other healthcare professional overwhelming support civil justice reform. These type of reforms offers the biggest hope of providing significant savings – $650 billion annually in defensive medicine costs alone.
Civil justice reform is simple. It neither increases our taxes nor expands the federal bureaucracy.
So as the debate continues in Washington over what to do about health reform, civil justice reform continues to be pushed to the back burner by the president and democratic leaders in Congress. While the president has repeatedly called for a closer examination of successful state-based civil justice reform solutions, we already know that civil justice reform works. States like Texas, California and Georgia have demonstrated that civil justice reform can also stem skyrocketing medical malpractice insurance premiums and how those costs are being passed along to the consumer.
California passed civil justice reforms more than 30 years ago, and malpractice premiums in several specialties are now as much as [# More #] 50 percent lower than those in states such as New York, Pennsylvania and Florida. Texas adopted comprehensive legal reform in 2003, and more than 14,000 doctors have returned to the state or decided to move to Texas as a result of civil justice reforms. Communities in Texas that once did not have primary or specialty care doctors now have a full complement of physicians. Georgia passed civil justice reforms in 2005 and medical litigation insurance premiums have been steadily decreasing while the number of communities with access to a physician have increased.
It will take bold leaders willing to stand up to personal injury lawyers. If this Congress and this president are serious about health reform, civil justice should be addressed. There is a potential pot of $650 billion annually which could go to decreasing premiums for individuals and small employers. It could be used to reduce the rolls of the uninsured. It could go to improving patient safety and reducing medical errors.
There are many suggested reforms … including creating a “safe harbor” for physicians who employ best medical practices, caps on non-economic damages or so-called “pain and suffering” claims, and creating health courts which specialize in medical injury cases.
Stay tuned for much more from Newt's Center for Health Transformation...