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Medical Liability Reform
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According to CNBC, medical liability reform legislation is awaiting intense discussions later this 2013. The Health Coalition on Liability and Access got together in Washington this week to go over current concerns in the states and to listen to liability reform experts and Congress on the road to federal health reform in 2013.

Speakers at the get together included Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), David Pulliam of Congressman Phil Gringrey’s (R-GA) office, and Matt Fullenbaum of the American Tort Reform Association. Senator Blunt is a supporter of federal medical liability reform. He started the meeting by going over 2012’s reform talks. He spoke about state reform efforts that have reduced health care costs.

  
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One reform effort is happening in Arkansas. According to wmctv.com, Arkansas lawmakers debated in early 2013 competing measures to address court decisions that overturned portions of a tort reform law in 2003.  The measures involved a proposal to provide the legislature in Arkansas the authority to write the rules for the state’s courts. Sen. Eddie Joe Williams, R-Cabot, suggested providing the legislature in Arkansas the authority to create the rules of pleading and procedure for all courts in Arkansas.

Tort reform has two sides to it – preserving access to patient care while decreasing medical costs. The Florida Times Union reported on February 8, 2013 that Georgia medical malpractice will be managed similar worker’s compensation. Senate Bill 141 by Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, proposed a system in which patients take mistakes of doctors to a panel of physicians for hearings as opposed to filing lawsuits. If the panel determines compensation to the patients is warranted, there is a payment to the patients from a fund that all providers pay into, similar to a no-fault system that covers workplace injuries.

In February 2013, Yahoo! Finance reported on tort reform in Michigan. Advocates for tort reform, including medical malpractice insurer, The Doctors Company, cheered the “Patients First Reform Package.” The Patients First Reform Package, created from Senate Bills 1115 and 1118, was approved by the House and Senate in 2012 and signed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. The bills put back in place and improve tort reform legislation passed in Michigan in 1993. The 1993 measures established protections against meritless cases and disproportionate jury awards. Senate Bill 1115 clarifies loss of society or companionship constitutes noneconomic damages and is subject to Michigan’s noneconomic damages limit. The bill provides how future damages are calculated to avoid judicial errors in reducing awards to present value.

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According to CNBC, other topics on medical liability reform discussed in Washington involved plaintiff lawyers’ legislative strategies, state legislation, and a judge-directed negotiation program used in New York. Chairman Mike Stinson said at the meeting:  “While we continue to see lower health care costs and increased access to care in states that have passed medical liability reforms, the patchwork of laws that differ from state to state must be reconciled. For that reason, we remain dedicated to passing comprehensive medical liability reform at the federal level,” according to CNBC.





 

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