Friday, June 17, 2011

Dent Proposes Medical Liability Reform

LV Congressman Charlie Dent, to the chagrin of many trial lawyers, has always been been an advocate for medical liability reform. Yesterday, he and Congressman Erik Paulsen, a Minnesota Republican, introduced legislation aimed at decreasing health care costs through comprehensive medical liability reform.

“The 2010 health care law missed a critical opportunity to enact meaningful medical liability reforms,” said Rep. Dent in a news release. “Our medical justice system is a major cost driver for health care spending and it impacts the ability of patients to receive high quality care. We expect doctors to make decisions based solely on what is best for their patients, not on what is best to defend against frivolous lawsuits. Across the United States, the lack of comprehensive reform has affected where qualified doctors practice, what fields of medicine they pursue, and the services they provide. As Congress continues to discuss ways to reform and strengthen our health care system, advancing the common-sense policies included in H.R. 2205 will help reduce health care spending and ensure access to quality care.”

“The reality is medical liability does contribute to increased healthcare costs. Healthcare professionals practice defensive medicine for fear of frivolous lawsuits and end up ordering billions of dollars in extra tests and treatments,” added Rep. Paulsen. “The current environment not only increases the cost of care for patients, but also discourages highly skilled and dedicated physicians from providing important services. Three out of four emergency rooms have reported shortages of specialists, and many orthopedic surgeons have chosen to retire early or scale back their surgical duties, because of liability concerns. These reforms are needed to protect patients, reduce healthcare costs, and ensure that this nation continues to produce the world’s greatest healthcare professionals.”

The practice of defensive medicine – when doctors order tests and treatments in order to protect themselves against frivolous lawsuits – is estimated to cost as much as $200 billion annually. Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analyses indicate comprehensive medical liability reform would save the government $54 billion over the next decade and cut national health care spending by 0.5 percent per year.

Dent's leislation will encourage states to adopt effective alternative medical liability laws that reduce the number of health care lawsuits initiated, reduce the average amount of time taken to resolve lawsuits and reduce the cost of malpractice insurance. The legislation will also enact nationwide reforms to stabilize compensation for injured patients, hold parties responsible for their degree of fault, ensure that meritorious claims are swiftly resolved, encourage compliance with accepted clinical practice guidelines, and guarantee that medical care is available to those who need it the most by providing protections to safety-net providers.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

I never thought Charlie would fuck with the lawyers... but it's about time!

Anonymous said...

Charlie Dent voted to end medicare!

RS said...

This issue is not new. People have been complaining since well before Obama was elected. There were reports that medical liability issues were driving doctors out of Pennsylvania.

If this is so important, why didn't the Rs fix it when they had control of the White House and Congress? It's not like there were no deficits in that period. It's only important now because the Rs need it to counteract Obamacare.

By the way, where is that national medical plan promised by the Rs a year ago?

Zorn said...

It failed because the Ds weren't intelligent to be able to read it

Jon Geeting said...

Bernie, please correct this post. Defensive medicine absolutely does not cost $200 billion annually. The entire medical liability system, including the impact of defensive medicine, costs $55.6 billion annually, or about 2.4% of total health spending.

That's a big number, but it's pathetically small compared to what we need to be doing. There's also no evidence from the states that liability caps reduce health spending. This issue is a diversion.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Your link does not back you up, and it's an opinion piece.I will do some research this evening.

Ayn Rand said...

Jon Geeting
We have doctors retiring because they live in fear of the fact that they could lose a life's work in one court case. On top of that young doctors are going to work for hospitals instead of opening their own practice which was the norm in this nation for a very long time. Again they do this out of fear and to escape the costs. In so doing the doctor-patient relationship is destroyed. Wake up and smell the roses. We need to get attorneys out of our bedrooms as well as their allies in government. We also need to phase out programs like medicare, medicaid and yes, social security and put all that in the hands of the individual. Enact legislation that will cause lawyers to pay if they lose for the initiation of a frivilous law suit

Anonymous said...

In April, house bill 1 reformed the fair share legislation that allows for negligence to be assigned on a percentage of fault. Prior to that 1% at fault meant that a defendant could be 100% liable for monetary damages. Now, if a person is 1% liable, they pay 1% of damages.

This change will have a great impact on medical liability reform.

Trish

Jon Geeting said...

The Health Affairs study cited in both blog posts is not an opinion piece, it's the most authoritative research that's been done on the topic.

Please show us where you got $200 billion a year from. Who gave you that number?

Anonymous said...

Jon, use the $54 billion number - if you don't think $540 billion over 10 years isn't big enough to pay attention to, then you're certifiably insane.

Please stop bending over for your your tort lawyer masters and be independent.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Please show us where you got $200 billion a year from. Who gave you that number?"

Jon, read my comment from this morning. I will check this tonight. I can't do things by your schedule. As for where I got the number, it is right off of Dent's news release.

And no, you linked me to an opinion column.

Donna Baver Rovito said...

Anon 1:44 - Charlie Dent has voted AGAINST trial liars (I mean LAWYERS!) consistently throughout his political career both in the state Capitol and in Washington, DC. It's why they ALWAYS support his opponent and why doctors in the Lehigh Valley support Charlie Dent.

Anon 1:57 - Get a clue. Charlie voted to preserve Medicare, which is rapidly going broke and will eventually be unable to provide benefits to ANYONE.

RS - Under President Bush, the Republican House voted for medical liability reform, including caps on NON-economic damages, at least 10 times. None of those bills ever made it to the floor of the Senate, thanks to filibusters mounted by Teddy Kennedy and his minions, and, lacking 60 votes in the Senate for cloture, the bills always died. It wasn't for lack of trying.

Also - there have been Republican health care reform plans since BEFORE the PPACA was even proposed. Do some homework - try Kaiser Health News - http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2011/January/06/gop-health-reform-repeal.aspx. Politically, though, wouldn't it be a waste of time for the House Republicans to pass a plan to replace something they haven't been able to repeal yet? Stay tuned, though, it will be an interesting ride. But to suggest that there are not or were never Republican alternative proposals is inaccurate.

Jon, your figure about the cost of the medical liability system only includes the cost of judgements and legal expenses. It does NOT include defensive medicine, which over 90% of doctors admit to practicing.

Trish, I wish you were correct about the Fair Share Act in PA, but unfortunately, a defendant who is found to be 1% liable in a civil tort case can STILL be forced to pay 100% of damages if the other defendants don't have the resources to pay. The bill passed the HOUSE, but is currently bottled up in the PA Senate Judiciary Committee, where Republican Montgomery County Senator Stuart Greenleaf is, as always, carrying political water for his friends in the trial bar and not letting his fellow Senators vote on the bill unless they let him gut it first.

In fact, there's a vote scheduled for Wednesday, so if anyone out there knows a Senator on the PA Senate Judiciary Committee (like Lisa Boscola, who is supportive of the measure but could certainly use calls and emails from her constituents to convince her colleagues), please contact him or her ASAP and ask for a YES vote on the Fair Share Act passed by the House - NOT Sen. Greenleaf's watered down version that won't solve ANY of the problems PA's archaic joint and several liability policy creates.

Anon 10:46 - You're right about the numbers - even if it IS "only"
$54 billion a year, or $540 Billion over 10 years, anyone who thinks that's not worth looking at is insane. In fact, it would COMPLETELY COVER the $500 Billion (that's a half a trillion dollars, folks) that the PPACA yanks away from providing health care for senior citizens through Medicare.

Kudos to Charlie Dent for always supporting the doctor-patient relationship by opposing meritless lawsuits and an out-of-control medical "justice" system, which in reality neither provides "justice" to legitimately injured patients (since lawyers take about 54% of every verdict or settlement) nor fairness to medical professionals who haven't done anything wrong (juries find that the doctor or hospital have done nothing wrong 81% of the time - perpetuating the lawyers' 81% error rate.)

Anonymous said...

No question reform is needed, but we will have to take care not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I have recent first hand experience with arrogant, incompetent, for-profit medical "professionals" who basically euthanized someone very close to me after botching what should have been a 3-4 week recovery. I will tell you that even under current law, this is going to be a long, expensive fight where these bastards are already lying, have "lost" some records, falsified others.

Yeah, trial lawyers are real scum.

Until you need one.

My sense is that medical liability reform will turn out like electricity deregulation. Lots of promises of great things to come, and only the industry will benefit.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Bernie, please correct this post. Defensive medicine absolutely does not cost $200 billion annually."

I have spent some time looking and found a report from Jackson Health care saying that the annual cost of defensive medicine is between $650-$850 Billion.

According to a column in the WP, the annual cost of defensive medicine is between $100B and $200B.

http://www.jacksonhealthcare.com/healthcare-research/healthcare-costs-defensive-medicine-study.aspx

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/30/AR2009073002816.html

Anonymous said...

Charlie Dent voted to end medicare!

Anonymous said...

Obamacare doesn't work unless Medicare goes away.

Obamacare guts Medicare because it must eliminate Medicare to pay for it.

Death panels are coming. Granny and Grampa get the Obama Ice Floe Treatment and are expected to do the right thing and not be a burden.

Michelle squeezes into another obscenely ill fitting get-up as she excoriates McDonald's (the only company managing to hire people in the Obama Economy).

Barack shoots another 130 on Sunday (using his foot wedge liberally) as he agrees to another Obamacare exemption for another connected corporate donor. The deal's so good he declares it "church," and heads off for a cheeseburger and a smoke before a quick breath mint and back to Mrs. Hall Monitor.

Donna Baver Rovito said...

Anon 1:57 and 2:36....

You really need to get some new material.

Happy Birthday, Bernie!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Shhhh!

Anonymous said...

Shit O'Hare has birthdays, who knew. Well a merry Angle/Stoffa birthday on your big 70.

Anonymous said...

Hey Donna, the truth is always the BEST material!

Anonymous said...

Donna has a learning problem. Forgive her.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday Bernie, enjoy it!

The Banker

Bernie O'Hare said...

Shhh.

Anonymous said...

Medical liability reform will make as big a dent in costs of insurance as that lady's bequest for the flat screen TV will do for the money needed to run Gracedale next year.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Actually, that was a male resident's bequest. He did not have much, but tried to do something nice with what he had. It's no surprise that you would belittle him along with Dent. if people knew that assholes like you are part of the Democratic party, they'd run for their lives.

Anonymous said...

Bernie it is well known defensive medicine and the joke that is tort reform is only around 2% of the total cost. It's a red herring that is used to muddy the water.

Seamus

Anonymous said...

Just quickly found:

http://www.justice.org/cps/rde/xchg/justice/hs.xsl/8686.htm?utm_source=Ideas+in+Action&utm_campaign=4554064c69-Ideas_in_Action09_11_2009&utm_medium=email

Seamus

Bernie O'Hare said...

Seamus, I certainly did think the same way you did, but the data (unfortunately, I have yet to find any truly objective data) I've seen and cited contradicts you. IYou call it a red herring. But doesn't it make sense that doctors, worried about malpractice, will conduct all kinds of tests that are totally unnecessary. Haven't you experienced it yourself? To me, it's common sense.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Seamus, You link to the Trial Lawyers. I can link to to a study by orthopedic surgeons in which they claim that 1/3 of their costs are defensive.

Anonymous said...

But Trial Lawyers are against tort reform....

Seamus

Bernie O'Hare said...

That's my point. Trial lawyers lobby and spend money against any attempt at medical liability reform ad you link to them to support an argument that we need no medical liability reform.

Anonymous said...

I was just quoting it for the cost piece....

Seamus

Anonymous said...

I thought this was done in PA. While malpractice lawsuits went down, Dr Insurance Premiums still went up. Seems like the Reform only lead to more profits for the insurance industry. Seems like there needs to be some accountablity with insurers as well.

What about allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices? Sounds like this would have greater taxpayer benefit.

Sounds like this proposal is some form of REGULATION.

BTW, remember when electricity deregulation went into effect and our rates went up 30%?

To regulate or not to regulate.

Anonymous said...

Charlie Dent a catastrophe to the average American taxpayer.