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Georgia Patients' Access to Care at Risk as Medical Liability Cap Overruled

For immediate release:
March 22, 2010

Statement attributable to:
J. James Rohack, MD
AMA President

“Today’s court ruling to strike down proven medical liability reform in Georgia is a step backward for the state’s patients and physicians as Georgia once again allows a broken legal system to jeopardize access to health care.

“The action puts Georgia’s patients at risk for the severe access problems suffered prior to 2005 when the state’s unrestrained legal system pushed premiums to record highs and forced physicians to limit services, retire early, or move to other states where liability premiums were more stable.

“Without reform, medical liability premiums for Georgia physicians increased from 10 to 27 percent each year between 2001 and 2004. After a cap on non-economic damages was enacted in 2005, liability premiums stabilized, allowing Georgia physicians to stay in practice and provide care for their patients.

“Strong medical liability reforms work. After placing a cap on non-economic damages more than three decades ago, the medical liability climate in California remains stable with premiums in check. Texas also enjoys the same stability after adopting strong reforms in 2003 that included a cap on non-economic damages.

“The AMA continues to vigorously support strong, proven medical liability reforms at the state and federal levels to keep physicians caring for patients, while still allowing patients their day in court.”

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Robert J. Mills
AMA Media Relations
(312) 464-5970