Saturday, September 25, 2004

Another Work Stoppage????
Hat tip to Kevin for linking to this Forbes story about a potential physician work stoppage in Maryland. I found this article in a Maryland paper: Threat of strike raises stakes in debate on insurance premiums
Surgeons in Washington County will begin turning away patients whose conditions are not life-threatening in hopes of forcing insurers to lower their malpractice premiums.

The work stoppage is scheduled to begin Nov. 15 with a majority of the county's general surgeons, who handle a variety of procedures from appendectomies to vascular repairs.

But dozens of surgeons and physicians in other specialties are expected to announce soon that they also will begin turning down non-emergency work in November, said Dr. Karl P. Riggle, a spokesman for the Washington County Surgical Association.

The move could be the most drastic yet taken by medical doctors in Maryland, most of whom face a 33 percent increase in their insurance premiums. Doctors claim the rising rates are caused by large malpractice award payouts and threaten to drive them out of business, but their call for tort reform has been opposed by trial lawyers.
Rates increasing by a third! Ouch!!!
Don't think it can work? Think again. Just look at West Virginia:
a large group of northern panhandle surgical specialists stopped all their elective cases. Hospitals in the area, which were already struggling under inadequate reimbursement, began to suffer mounting losses in income. The hospital association’s involvement in the lobbying effort intensified dramatically.
This brought national attention to the matter. And it got tort reform passed in West Virginia:
Critical portions of the tort reform bill include a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages and a $500,000 cap on all damages for treatment of emergency conditions for patients who receive care at a designated trauma center. Joint liability has been eliminated, and each individual defendant bears liability equal to his or her percentage of fault. Collateral payments, which had not been allowed in court before, may now be presented. The “ostensible agency theory” of liability was abolished. Additionally, a committee was established to develop a patient injury compensation fund to provide for economic damages that exceed financial limits set in the bill.
Will the physicians in Maryland do as well? It is an election year, you know.
And now, back to Star Wars Battlefront....
Cross-posted at Galen's Log
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