Health Policy Hot Topics: A Look at State-Level Tort Reform

While federal-level initiatives look promising for the future of health policy, what can be said of reforms happening in different states? A forward-looking session on medical malpractice liability reform, taking place today from 8:00 to 9:30 a.m. in room 6A, will present perspectives from the key stakeholders involved in this health policy hot topic, shedding light on the current issues state legislatures are battling.

The discussion will kick off with a presentation from session chair Joseph S. Wilson, MD, who will take a historical perspective of tort reform to explore its importance for future physicians. “During my career over the last 35 years there has been a swinging pendulum of concern and medical liability issues for physicians. Physicians are really looking for a balanced approach on tort reform. While we are at a balanced level between physicians and patients now, we must be mindful of where the liabilities’ spectrum was eight or nine years ago,” he explains.

“Each time we address tort reform, we’ve become complacent and we’ve allowed that pendulum to swing back toward liability issues that negatively impact physicians and patients. What I hope people take away from the presentation is the warning that we cannot be complacent, nor can we let the pendulum swing back. We need to move the system to an even better place, stay engaged at the state level, and make sure future reforms stay with the rights of the patients.”

Following Wilson’s presentation, Hal Dasinger, vice president of Government Relations at The Doctors Company, will offer a closer look at the effectiveness of ballot initiatives, using one in California as an example. “The ballot measure is a tool invented to get around intransigent legislatures held in the grip of special interests. Unfortunately, the tool is now often used by those special interests it was designed to defeat,” Dasinger explains. “Campaigns to pass or defeat initiatives spend big money to motivate voters, but a 30-second ad has no room for nuance or detail. The risk is that important health policy will be decided by voters with no subject matter expertise beyond a few TV commercials and some campaign mail.”

Attendees can also expect presentations on “The Trial Bar: Is there Room For Negotiation?” by Kim Ross; and “A State Lawmaker’s Perspective,” by Jaime Capelo, former member of the Texas House of Representatives.

ACC.15 Coverage
ACC.15 Coverage

Keywords: Health Policy, Malpractice, Occupational Health Physicians, Physicians, ACC Annual Scientific Session

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