Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tort Reform, Anyone?

February 8, 2011

During the State of the Union Address, President Obama expressed support for medical liability reform, which was suggested by Republicans last year to rein in frivolous lawsuits. In light of the President’s announcement, AHCA/NCAL recently declared its support for the initiative. Currently this measure enjoys broad bipartisan support, and could serve as the beginning of consensus-building momentum on other health care priorities for the 112th Congress.

As lawmakers consider what’s doable this congressional session, tort reform has a real possibility of becoming law. In the long term care world, this means preserving dwindling resources for patient care and adequate staffing. 

Even though questionable lawsuits are often settled out of court, the sheer volume of them drains financial resources, according to a recent actuarial analysis by Aon Global Risk Consulting. Internal analyses show that siphoning off needed resources in this way can inhibit care quality, may lead to a deteriorating living environment, and problematic staffing ratios.

Recent activity that could spark movement on the topic this year includes:
  • HR 5, introduced by Rep. Phil Gingrey with six cosponsors, which would cap non-economic damages and establish a time limit to file a claim;
  • The House Judiciary Committee’s January 20th meeting entitled “Medical Liability Reform: Cutting Costs, Spurring Investment, Creating Jobs”; and
  • A recommendation by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform for an “…aggressive set of reforms to the tort system” in its final report titled “Moment of Truth,” released in December 2010.
AHCA/NCAL will continue to follow the tort reform debate as it develops. If you have questions, please share them below.

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