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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 04:01 PM
Original message
Republicans fail again to bring up medical malpractice bill
Republicans fail again to bring up medical malpractice bill
02:57 PM CDT on Wednesday, April 7, 2004

Associated Press

WASHINGTON Senate Republicans lost a third attempt to curb medical malpractice lawsuits Wednesday but said they would keep forcing votes on an issue they blame for rising health care costs.

On a 49-48 vote, GOP leaders fell 11 votes short of the 60 needed to force the Senate to consider their bill to limit pain-and-suffering damages that juries can award in malpractice suits against obstetricians and emergency room doctors.

Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., says the GOP won't give up on getting medical malpractice legislation wanted by physicians and insurance companies through the Senate this election year.

"We are going to keep bringing this issue back because the crisis is getting worse," he said.

Republicans say their measure could help reduce unnecessary lawsuits and higher malpractice premiums that make it harder for doctors to practice. They tried last year and again earlier this year to force votes on similar measures but failed.
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 04:04 PM
Response to Original message
1. Is it just me,
Or does that sound like a good thing, at least at first glance? Some medical malpractice stuff is through the roof, and doctor's fees have to go up to meet their insurance costs, and then insurance costs more, etc., etc. Someone with more info want to share, please?
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dammit905 Donating Member (139 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 04:07 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. It is a good thing
My dad's a general practice physician in my rural hometown, and our family is VERY adament about this issue. The GOP is wrong on nearly everything, but for once they're correct... This is an issue that needs to be dealt with, because good doctors suffer, and patients suffer. It's outta control.
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Postman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 04:16 PM
Response to Reply #2
6. How about the "bad doctors"?
is the removal by "mistake" of a breast, arm, leg , major organ a frivolous item to take to court?

What price do you put on that?

This type of legislation takes away an American citizens fundamental right to justice.

Why doesn't the American Medical Association police it's own ranks and do something about the bad doctors instead of trying to take away the legitimate grievance of someone who has been harmed?

It's not the "frivolous" lawsuits that reward people significant jury awards, it's the legitimate ones that do and THAT is what is driving insurance costs -- along with insurance companies LOSING MONEY IN THE STOCK MARKET.
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BattyDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 04:49 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. I agree
Edited on Wed Apr-07-04 04:49 PM by BattyDem
Anyone who is permanently disabled, disfigured or just plain dead as a result of a doctor's mistake should not have limits put on their rewards ... period.
Bad doctors need to be weeded out. Greedy hospitals that are under-staffed and cause tired doctors to make mistakes should be regulated so that there are no "double shifts" for anyone dispensing medication, performing surgery or working in the Emergency Room. There needs to be some "down time" between shifts. And finally, insurance companies themselves need to reform. Where is all the money going?

I know that frivolous lawsuits exist ... and not just in medical malpractice ... but it is wrong to limit the scope of legitimate lawsuits because of those people who try to take advantage of the system. Where is the justice in that?

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mbperrin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 04:09 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. Well, here's some actual facts:

"...between 1988 and 1998, U.S. health-care costs increased 74.4 percent while malpractice premiums increased 5.7 percent. The total premiums paid in 2000 added up to 0.56 of the nation's total health-care bill.

Bush asked Congress to "pass medical-liability reform" that would limit malpractice awards. The House passed it. Senate Democrats thwarted the bill this week. Bush wants Americans to believe that if insurance companies have to pay smaller damages to injured patients, physicians will have lower premiums and health-care costs could actually be held down.

Wrong again.

New information in a national database that collects reports of every judgment and settlement paid in malpractice demonstrates just the opposite. An analysis of that data by a consumer-advocacy group reveals malpractice payouts decreased by 8.2 percent between 2001 and 2002. Meanwhile, doctors" premiums didn't go down."

There's a whole lot more there and also at:

The whole thing is a great way for insurance companies and doctors to make an even nicer bunch of money than they do now for no particular reason.

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maddezmom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 04:16 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. thanks for those links
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Justitia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 04:12 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. it's a great thing - for Frist
since his family are the majority shareholders in HCA, the nation's largest hospital chain.

He stands to gain significantly if he can sheild his investments via this tailor-made legislation.

You didn't think he was doing it out of altruistic love of country doctors did you?
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NewJerseyDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 05:40 PM
Response to Reply #1
10. Well the bill doesn't even cover all doctors
If I understand correctly, the bill was changed so that it just covers OBGYNs. The reason is because those doctors are supposedly the most affected by high liability insurance costs. However, that means if someone's baby dies they get 250,000 dollars but if someone's nose job gets screwed up they cand get a few million dollars. That just doesn't isn't right.

Also, this bill wasn't sent through the Senate Judiciary Committee where it would normally go. This is because republican Lindsey Graham is on the committee and generally opposes tort reform and has been one of 3 republicans (Crapo of Idaho and Shelby of Alabama are the others) who oppose the bill. Republicans refuse to send the bill to the committee where it would pass, if they negotiated with Dianne Feinstein and came out with a comprimise, because they don't want the bill changed. Republicans shouldn't be allowed to skip the committee process that every other bill has to go through just because they might not get what they want.

Also, republicans know the democrats will oppose the bill and they just want to use it against the democrats and accuse them of "obstructionism."
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CaptAhab Donating Member (85 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 05:59 PM
Response to Reply #1
13. 5% of doctors pay off about 40% malpractice compensation
Actually, I believe it is only about 5% of all physicians in the country that have been involved in 40% of the compensation paid off in malpractice lawsuits. I think it is obvious that the insurance companies are pushing this.
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DiverDave Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 04:17 PM
Response to Original message
7. Put the blame where it BELONGS!!
The damned insurance company's are to blame for this, but they own 50-70% of the congress.
In states where tort reform has been enacted, no (NONE) of the rates have been decreased.
Why don't we hear that??
It is NOT the lawyers OR the doctors fault that we have high premiums, it is because of the GREEDY INSURANCE COMPANY'S!
God I hate those mofos.
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punpirate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 05:29 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. A goodly part of this is the fault of insurers in the early `80s....
Many firms began to get into malpractice insurance when interest rates were high. They undercut rates to get into the market, but when interest rates declined, the investments went sour, and many smaller insurers either went under or got out of the business, or raised rates dramatically (which ultimately cost them business), leaving the big boys to fight it out amongst themselves.

Now, the bigger insurers have had several years to consolidate lobbying power and to influence state legislatures which have become increasingly Republican-controlled.

The other issue is that states simply do not address the root cause of malpractice. When doing a little research on this a while back, I found an interesting tidbit. In Texas, which recently put a number of caps on personal injury and medical malpractice (through state constitutional amendments, so there would be no court challenges to the law), of the 6,022 malpractice cases referred to the state board of medical examiners from January, 2001, to May, 2002, not a single one had been reviewed. In fact, the last time a doctor lost a license in Texas was 1988.

In, Texas, too, the same argument was used--it was sold to the public as a means of reducing health care costs, and yet the changes in the state constitution have not changed those costs, nor the costs of malpractice insurance to doctors. There's a reason why the insurance lobbyists' section of the gallery in the Texas legislature is called "the owners' box."

More fundamentally, pain and suffering awards are meant to wake up a bad doctor or hospital. In that pure, free-market system the corporate right is always crowing about, a bad doctor with a history of malpractice would incur individual malpractice rates so high that he or she could not afford to practice, thus eliminating the source of the malpractice when the state would not act to remove the doctor from practice. The system now, however, spreads those malpractice costs across all doctors.

Capping pain and suffering only makes the system work more poorly, and denies the genuinely harmed the opportunity of obtaining due relief.

The root cause of malpractice is the for-profit system we've encouraged in this country--with insurers being the prime beneficiaries. As long as the system allows bad doctors to remain in the system, the insurers will profit from it, as they have in the past and continue to do so today. The insurers are the ones pushing such legislation, and the ones deceiving the public about the root causes to improve their profits.

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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 05:42 PM
Response to Original message
11. Thanks for all of that info and links
That makes sense, that if malpractice targeted the doctors responsible, they would soon be out of business. Why doesn't it work correctly? I'll have to look into that more. One would think that limiting frivolous lawsuits would help, but apparently not. Hrm. *thinking caps on, off to do some reading...*
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librechik Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 05:49 PM
Response to Original message
12. working hard on this one--where were they when our price-negotiating
power with the drug companies got taken out?

These people are not interested in the consumer, only their rich PHRMA/HMO and insurance company contributors.
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