Center for America

Speaker's Resource: 4. Healthcare Crisis, p 2

 

 

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Key Reference Citations (KRC)

 

The Rising Costs of Healthcare

  • “This broken system of litigation is also raising the cost of health care that all Americans pay, through out-of-pocket payments, insurance premiums, and federal taxes. Excessive litigation is impeding efforts to improve quality of care”. (KRC: HHS Report, "Confronting ...", p.1)

  • “At nearly $27 billion in 2003, medical malpractice costs translated to $91 per person.  This compares to $5 per person in 1975 (not adjusted for inflation).  This significant escalation in medical malpractice costs has contributed to the increase in health care costs in the U.S. over the past 30 years”.  (KRC:  Tillinghast, "... 2004 Update", p. 2-3)

  • “A complete picture of the costs must include not only the cost of malpractice insurance for doctors and hospitals, but also the liability insurance costs paid by non-physician/non-hospital providers, medical product producers, blood banks, the biotechnology sector, managed care and any other member of the medical community. These costs -- ignored by the ABA -- may well eclipse the liability exposure of doctors and hospitals, given the escalating frequency and magnitude of claims against these sectors”. ("Fact or Fiction: You Be the Judge," a paper published by the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA).  Call 202-682-1163 to ask for a copy. See also website excerpts)

  • According to the most recent report on tort cost in the United States conducted by Tillinghast Towers Perrin, medical malpractice costs accounted for approximately $26.5 billion of the estimated $246 billion in total tort costs to the U.S. economy in 2003.  (KRC:  Tillinghast, "... 2004 Update", p. 2)

  • Analysis suggests that, since 1975, medical malpractice costs have increased at an average annual rate of 11.8% versus an average annual rate of 9.2% for all other tort costs. “The compounded impact of this 28 year difference in growth rates is that medical malpractice costs have risen by a factor of 23 since 1975, while all other tort costs have grown by a factor of 12”. (KRC:  Tillinghast, "... 2004 Update", p. 2)

  • “One finding in a survey conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2002 is truly staggering. ‘If reasonable limits were placed on non economic damages to reduce defensive medicine, it would reduce the amount of taxpayers’ money to the Federal Government by $25.3-$44.3 billion per year. This is a very significant amount. It would more than fund a prescription drug benefit for Medicare beneficiaries and help uninsured Americans obtain coverage through a refundable health credit’.”  (KRC: Hantler, "Seven Myths ...", p. 10 quoting HHS Report, "Confronting ...",p. 7)

  • As taxpayers, all of us are being penalized to the tune of $28 billion to $48 billion in additional costs per year due to the impact of malpractice coverage and defensive medicine on government-run health care programs and health care for federal employees. (KRC:  HHS Report, "Confronting ...", p. 7)

  • It may take a minimum of five years for states in which caps have only been recently introduced to see the resulting effect on premiums, and even longer to repair the balance sheets of insurers hit by very large payouts not envisaged when the policies were written years earlier.  (Robert P. Hartwig and Claire Wilkinson, “White Paper: Medical Malpractice Insurance,” Insurance Information Institute, Insurance Issues Series, Vol. 1, No. 1 (June 2003))

     

Access to Healthcare

  • “A 2002 study from the Department of Health Human Services reports that the high cost of insurance represents ‘a threat to health care quality for all Americans’.  This study finds:  ‘Increasingly, Americans are at risk of not being able to find a doctor when they most need one because the doctor has given up practice, limited the practice to patients without health conditions that would increase the litigation risk, or moved to a state with a fairer legal system where insurance can be obtained at a lower price’.” (KRC: Hantler, "Seven Myths ...", p. 8 citing HHS Report, "Confronting ...",p. 1)

  • The poorest Americans suffer from decreased access to health care. A study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that the “proportion of physicians in the country providing any charity care fell from 76 percent to 72 percent between 1997 and 1999 alone, increasing the need for doctors willing to volunteer their services.” (KRC: Hantler, "Seven Myths ...", p. 9 citing HHS Report, "Confronting ...",p. 4)

  • “As more and more doctors move their practices to states that have enacted tort reform measures where malpractice premiums are more stable, access to care for patients in states without liability reforms is in jeopardy”.  (www. AMA-ASSN.org)

  •  “Increasingly, Americans are at risk of not being able to find a doctor when they most need one because the doctor has given up practice, limited the practice to patients without health conditions that would increase the litigation risk, or moved to a state with a fairer legal system where insurance can be obtained at a lower price.”  (KRC:  HHS Report, "Confronting ...", p. 1)

  • "When liability insurance premiums are lower, more physicians are able to remain in practice, and the access to quality care is improved. A July 3, 2003, study from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) looked at the distribution of physicians across states with and without caps on non-economic damages since 1970. 13 After adjusting for multiple factors, AHRQ found that by 2000, states with damage caps averaged 12 percent more physicians per capita than states without damage caps." (KRC: AMA Statement, Feb 17, 2005, p. 13)

  • "Our future physicians are concerned as well, with 48 percent of America’s medical students indicating that the liability situation is a factor in their choice of specialty, affecting patients’ future access to critical services."  (KRC: AMA Statement, Feb 17, 2005, p. 3 citing Division of Marketing Research & Analysis Survey, American Medical Association, 2003.)

  • The Illinois Supreme Court heard arguments in the case this fall and was considering the reform law’s constitutionality at press time. When the state’s high court last considered the issue as part of a comprehensive tort reform package in 1997, it invalidated the legislation in its entirety, criticizing the legislature’s reasoning. One year prior to enactment of the 2005 law, Cook County alone had more than 44 verdicts or settlements in excess of $5 million. Observers say the law has helped stabilize insurance costs throughout Illinois, which in turn have encouraged new physicians to move into the state.  (Circuit Court Ruling Strikes Down Illinois/Medical Liability Reform Law, Ins. J., Nov. 14, 2007, at http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/midwest/2007/11/14/85022.htm.)

  • At trial a Las Vegas neurosurgeon testified about the “sordid scheme” in which he and the personal injury lawyer were involved.  He alleged that before depositions they would go “over questions” the lawyer planned to ask him “and answers that would be given.”  The surgeon also testified that the two “hid the kickbacks from the [settlements] by crafting bogus invoices.”  The first case against the personal injury lawyer ended in a mistrial with several counts being dismissed. Before the case began, the lawyer ran “a series of T.V. ads, which introduced him to the jury pool as a champion of the little guy.”  As of press time, all charges against the personal injury lawyer and the medical consultant, “once labeled the focus of a massive investigation,” have been temporarily set aside or dismissed.  (Adrienne Packer, Conspiracy, Fraud Trial: Surgeon Tells of “Stupidity, Greed,” Las Vegas Rev. J., Mar. 4 2008, at http://www.lvrj.com/news16209467.html)  (George Knapp, I-Team: Conspiracy, Fraud Trial of Lawyer Underway, Las Vegas Rev. J., Feb. 26, 2008, at http://lvrj.com/news/20595869.html)  (Carri Geer Thevenot, Fraud Case Dismissal: I’m Vindicated, Gage Says, Las Vegas Rev. J., June 20, 2008 at http://www.lvrj.com/news/20595869.html)

 

Hospitals Are Closing and Doctors Are Leaving

  • “The University of Nevada Medical Center closed its trauma center in Las Vegas for ten days. Its surgeons had quit because they could no longer afford malpractice insurance. Their premiums had increased sharply, some from $40,000 to $200,000. The trauma center was able to re-open only because some of the surgeons agreed to become county government employees for a limited time, which capped their liability for non-economic damages if they were sued. This is obviously only a temporary solution. If the Las Vegas trauma center closes again, the most severely injured patients will have to be transported to the next nearest Level 1 trauma center, five hours away”.

  • “Pennsylvania doctors are also leaving their practices  About 44 doctors at the height of their careers in Delaware County outside of Philadelphia left the state in 2001 or stopped practicing medicine because of high malpractice insurance costs”.

  • At Frankford Hospital’s three facilities in Northeast Pennsylvania and Bucks County, all twelve active orthopedic surgeons decided to lay down their scalpels after their malpractice rates nearly doubled to $106,000 each for 2001.

  • “Most cities in Mississippi with populations under 20,000 no longer have doctors who deliver babies”.

  • “In New Jersey, 65% of the hospitals report that physicians are leaving because of increased premiums (over 250% over the last three years)”. 

(KRC:  HHS Report, "Confronting ...", pgs. 2-4)

  • Though hotly denied by the plaintiffs bar, doctors themselves said and felt lawsuit abuse was driving their insurance rates up so high they had no choice but to quit medicine or leave Mississippi.  (KRC: WTTW, Using the Doctors as the Tip of the Spear,
    page 17)

     

 

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