Tort Reform: Improving Medical Care

By November 21, 2007Briefly Legal, Health Care

From the Michigan State Medical Society:

DETROIT, Nov. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A clear indication that Michigan’s 1993 tort reforms are working is that the state’s largest physician medical malpractice insurer is cutting its premiums by 12 to 25 percent for Wayne County physicians, the Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS) announced today at a news conference in Detroit.

The average decrease for all physicians in Wayne County will be 13 percent beginning January 1, according to American Physicians Assurance Corporation, a medical liability insurer based in East Lansing that is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the publicly held American Physicians Capital, Inc. (APCapital). Statewide, American Physicians’ malpractice insurance rates will be reduced by an average of 6.5 percent in 2008.

Sophie J. Womack, MD, a Detroit neonatalogist who serves on the Medical Society’s board, makes two salient points:

  • The reforms do not deny just compensation to the truly injured patient, and
  • The reforms work against the “lottery mentality” that produces a lawsuit for every negative occurrence.
  • Meanwhile, in Cook County, Illinois, where a judge struck down caps earlier this month:

    By the best estimates, the country is short 80,000 to 100,000 physicians, and that shortage will at least double by the year 2020,” Smith said. “The number of doctors is not going down. What’s causing the shortage is consumption of services is going up at a rate of 40 percent. It’s going to be made even worse by the baby-boom generation, who will hit the retirement window in four to five years.”

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