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    Thursday, April 13, 2006

    Tort Reform Alive and Well: Just when we had given up hope, Dr. Charles calls to say hey, look, the Senate is stirring again on malpractice reform issues. Maybe they realized it was time to get themselves together and pass some meaningful legislation while they still hold a majority. Or maybe Senator Frist decided it would behoove him to act like a leader if he wants to run for President. Whatever the reason, the Senate has decided to devote the first week in May to health issues. In addition to caps on malpractice awards for the impossible-to-quantitate pain and suffering, they will also be considering a measure that would allow small businesses to enjoy the same sort of group-buying power that large corporations enjoy when dealing with health insurance companies.

    Of course, health insurance companies oppose that. In Ohio, there is only one insurance company that will write group insurance for small businesses, and they make you pay through the nose, believe you me. All other insurance companies offer only individual plans for small businesses, which means that they decide whether or not to cover an employee on a case by case basis. (With a group plan, coverage is guaranteed for all employees.) It makes it difficult for small businesses to compete with large corporations for employees. That's one of the reasons you hardly ever find a nurse working in a doctor's office anymore - they command better wages and benefits at hospitals. You would think that such a move would be politically popular. It's legislation to help the little guy, after all. But, some so-called champions of the little guy still oppose it.

    As for malpractice caps, even the sponsors aren't optimistic:

    Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) said that the latest bill was modeled after a Texas law and that Congress should pass the legislation because malpractice insurance costs have forced a number of physicians out of business. Ensign added, "We're pretty pessimistic about being able to pass it" because of expected opposition from Democrats. Laura Capps, a spokesperson for Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), said, "We would definitely still oppose it,"

    Perhaps Senator Kennedy and his colleagues should take a look at what tort reform has done for Mississippi:

    Several insurance companies have returned to Mississippi. The Medical Assurance Corporation of Mississippi did not raise base premium rates in 2005; it lifted the moratorium on writing new medical malpractice policies and it approved a refund of the premiums paid by those insured in 2005.

    The state has also pointed to these reforms as a tool that helped recruit major businesses to the state and led to the expansion of several existing businesses.

    More than 50 new insurance programs were approved by the Insurance Department in 2005. The MDA's summary of new or expanded facilities in Mississippi reported 268 such projects which are expected to create an estimated 5,835 new jobs and represent a capital investment of approximately $1.19 billion.

    It's foolhardy to continue to insist that there's no need for reform of our tort system. To do so is to turn a blind eye to the many catalogued abuses - abuses that go unpunished and continue to run rampant. When our legal system is abused in pursuit of profit, we all pay the price.

    As Dr. Charles says, contact your Senator and let them know how important this issue is.

    posted by Sydney on 4/13/2006 08:50:00 AM 1 comments


    Pass tort reform and you defund the Democrats. Trial lawyers gave $128 million to the Democrats in the last election-one third of what the Democrats spent.

    Normal Americans have to pay high health insurance premiums just so lawyers can live in mansions and Democrats can retain power.

    By Blogger Jake, at 4:48 PM  

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