Target: State Legislatures
Goal: Urge state legislators to end the costly and ineffective malpractice tort system and implement a more cost-effective and rewarding compensation system.
State governments are scrambling to find new ways to improve healthcare while also lowering costs. One method that seems to hold a promise of success is being pioneered by two states: Georgia and Florida. Their tactic? Replacing the medical malpractice tort system in legal courts and replacing it with a medical compensation board similar to what’s used for Workers’ Compensation. Urge other states to support measures similar to the Patients’ Compensation System (PCS).
One of the biggest cost-driving factors of the malpractice system is a practice known as “defensive medicine,” which is where doctors prescribe more tests, medicines, and specialist referrals than necessary in an effort to protect themselves against malpractice accusations in the event something goes wrong. Defensive medicine happens all the time, and patients pay for it with higher insurance premiums and larger out-of-pocket expenses. The annual cost of defensive medicine nationwide exceeds $480 billion, according to the independent health-care economics firm BioScience Valuation.
Lawmakers in Florida and Georgia are considering repealing their medical tort system and replacing it with PCS, which would be a no-fault administrative method of dealing with medical injuries. If a patient feels that they’ve suffered an injury at the hands of a doctor, their claim is reviewed by a panel of independent health-care experts and compensated accordingly. Instead of facing an adversarial legal battle that may take years to settle (usually out of court), the patient would see payment in a matter of months. The benefits of this system would be enormous to patients and taxpayers alike. Patients would not only receive compensation quickly, but see greater access to justice. Trial lawyers frequently refuse to take malpractice cases unless the potential damage awards exceed $500,000. With PCS, any patient found to have suffered harm would be fairly compensated. For taxpayers, the decline in the need for defensive medicine would drastically increase savings in both state programs like Medicaid and private health plans. In fact, if PCS were to be adopted in all 50 states, BioScience Valuation estimates that the health-care system could save more than $2.6 trillion over 10 years.
The mere fact that trial lawyers and malpractice insurance companies oppose the compensation system should be enough to make state legislators take a long, hard look at this alternative to the current malpractice tort system in their quest to find ways cut the costs of health-care. Urge the state legislatures to implement their own Patients’ Compensation System and through it, improve the justice to those who have suffered from malpractice and reduce the expensive and unnecessary practice of defensive medicine.
Dear State Lawmakers,
States are struggling with the costs and obligations of our health-care system, trying to find innovative solutions to a national health-care crisis. One of the biggest cost-driving factors is the practice of “defensive medicine,” which arises out of our current malpractice tort system. Litigation is time-consuming and expensive, and in an effort to protect themselves, doctors are prescribing more tests, referrals, and medicines than necessary, driving up the costs of health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.
Patients who may have suffered at the hands of malpractice are finding it difficult to obtain justice as well, as many trial lawyers refuse to take on cases that don’t have the promise of big damage awards. According to a Gallup survey, one in four dollars spent on healthcare can be attributed to the routine practice of defensive medicine. It’s time for this waste to stop.
Georgia and Florida have recently introduced bills that seek to replace the medical malpractice tort system with a Patients’ Compensation System, very similar to Workers’ Compensation. Not only would this give greater access to justice for those who may have suffered injury at the hands of a doctor, but it would provide tremendous savings for both taxpayers and patients by reducing the need for defensive medicine. BioScience Valuation estimates that over 10 years Georgia will save $3.1 billion, and Florida, $16.8 billion, if the Patients’ Compensation System is adopted. Please, don’t hesitate further. Our healthcare is in crisis.
[Your Name Here]
Photocredit: Alex Proimos via Wikimedia Commons