:: to the teeth ::    thoughts on social justice, medicine, race, hope and beats

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." :: Arundhati Roy ::

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." :: Alice Walker ::
Friday, June 25, 2004  

Fryin' up a Malpractice Crisis

Bob Herbert's got an op/ed piece in the NYTimes, one of the first pieces of media I've seen that tries to take apart the AMA hysteria over the malpractice "crisis". I'm going to be a physician soon, I completely understand that physicians are dealing with a serious problem here, with malpractice premiums blowing out of proportion. But I've got some serious issues with the AMA making the malpractice "crisis" the #1 priority in their $17 million lobbying efforts, and putting aside other more important health crisis issues, like the millions of uninsured Americans, the racial and ethnic health disparities that exist, etc.

This is the organization that is supposed to be representing, as their motto says "Physicians dedicated to the health of America". But I won't go into that discussion, it would be too long. Instead, focusing on Herbert's piece, he highlights the AMA's "crisis map" of states that it claims patients have less and less access to care in. Herbert points out that in New Jersey, one of the "crisis states", malpractice payments declined by 21% from 2001 to 2003, while malpractice insurance premiums surged. And in Missouri, the MO Department of Insurance stated "Missouri medical malpractice claims, filed and paid, fell to all-time lows in 2003 while insurers enjoyed a cash-flow windfall."

The Congressional Budget Office put out a recent report on Tort Reform. One of the conclusions from the report was:

"State-level tort reforms have decreased the number of lawsuits filed, lowered the value of insurance claims and damage awards, and increased insurers' profitability as measured by payouts relative to premiums in the short run."

Increased insurers' profitability? Perhaps we're fighting the wrong battle -- letting the corporations who overcharge us go free, and instead fighting patients' rights.

OTHERS blogging about Herbert's article: I just saw that HealthLawBlog has a post on how docs are being sold a bill of goods about the causes of their insurance premiums, and Atrios throws explitives at the AMA (and some interesting comments ensue on his post).

posted by Anjali Taneja | 6/25/2004 11:21:00 AM | |


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