Insurers Rep Testifies HMO Liability Limited Under House Malpractice Caps
Santa Monica, CA: The American Medical Association (AMA) claims that the average verdict in America is 800% more than the official amount recorded by the taxpayer-funded National Practitioner Data bank, an arm of President Bush's own Department of Health & Human Services, according to the nonpartisan Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR).
The AMA testified today that most malpractice verdicts in the nation are more than $1 million and the average jury verdict is more than $3.5 million. However, the National Practitioner Data Bank -- which includes data from state medical boards, courts and malpractice insurers -- said that in the first 9 months of 2002 the average court judgment fell to $426,247. The Data Bank reports that one decade ago the average malpractice judgment adjusted for inflation was $404,646. (This data was first reported in the New York Times by the Department of Health and Human Services on January 17, 2003 -- Richard A. Oppel Jr. "With New Push, Bush Enters Fray Over Malpractice.")
"The AMA is contradicting information provided by President Bush's own administration in an attempt to change the debate from insurance reform to limiting liability for the few number of bad doctors that commit most malpractice," said Jamie Court, executive director of the Foundation for
Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR), a consumer group based in Santa Monica, CA. "If so many medical society members did not sit on the boards of so many doctor-run malpractice insurers, this debate would be about regulating insurers, not punishing innocent patients."
FTCR's recent report (available at www.consumerwatchdog.org) shows insurance reform, not legal limits on victims, reduced malpractice premiums for physicians in California.
Also, today at the House Judiciary Committee hearing on proposed malpractice limits backed by President Bush, a representative from the insurance industry admitted under examination by Representative William Delahunt (MA) that HMOs would have limited liability for malpractice claims against them under the proposal. Larry Smarr of the Physicians Insurers Association of America made the statement.
"President Bush wants to push seniors into HMOs and then limit the liability of those HMOs for malpractice," said Court. "President Bush stated when running for office that he wanted to reform HMOs, and now he is offering them more legal immunity for their medical malpractice."
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