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AMA and 100 Other Organizations Voice Support for HEALTH Act

For immediate release:
Jan. 25, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Medical Association (AMA) and 100 medical and physician organizations today sent a letter to the sponsors of H.R. 5, the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2011. The organizations strongly support the bi-partisan legislation and its reforms of the nation’s broken medical liability system.

"Our current medical liability system fails both patients and physicians," said AMA Chair Ardis Dee Hoven, M.D. "High jury awards and the cost of defending against lawsuits—even frivolous ones—results in high medical liability premiums, with devastating results for patients." 

"The proven reforms contained in the HEALTH Act would help reduce costs, while ensuring that patients who have been injured due to negligence receive just compensation," the letter states. "This bill provides the right balance of reforms by promoting speedier resolutions to disputes, maintaining access to courts, maximizing patient recovery of damage awards with unlimited compensation for economic damages, while limiting non-economic damages to a quarter million dollars."

"The HEALTH Act would put in place proven reforms, similar to those already working in states like California and Texas," Dr. Hoven said. "These reforms keep physicians’ liability premiums stable and ensure that patients—not lawyers—receive more of the awards."

While the total medical liability premiums in the rest of the U.S. rose 945 percent between 1976 and 2009, the increase in premiums in California—where reforms were in place—was less than one third of that amount at just 261 percent.

"Every dollar that is spent on medical liability costs is a dollar that could go to patient care," Dr. Hoven said.



Heather Lasher Todd
AMA Media Relations

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