Although a Hawaii obstetrician-gynecologist in a medically underserved area spent more than 60 percent of his time providing patients with primary care services, state officials say he cannot collect higher Medicaid payments allowed under a 2010 federal law designed to encourage physicians to provide this care.

Standing for physicians

The AMA Litigation Center is the strongest voice for America's medical profession in legal proceedings across the country.

On top of that, the state told the Hilo physician, Frederick Nitta, MD, that he must pay back the $205,000 he has already been paid for care he provided Medicaid patients and billed for at the higher rate.

If Hawaii courts allow the state's "arbitrary and capricious" interpretation of the law's provision to remain intact, physicians will be forced to deny vital medical services or risk closing their practices, the Hawaii Medical Assn. and the Litigation Center of the American Medical Association and State Medical Societies said in a friend-of-the-court brief they filed in a lawsuit challenging the state's interpretation of the law.

"This does not bode well for Hawaii's people and their ability to access vital medical services, especially in light of the shortage of primary care physicians in Hawaii," the HMA and Litigation Center told the court in its amicus. Hawaii—with an aging physician population and high cost of living—was already short 900 physicians in 2016. That number has been rising, up 43 percent from 2012 when the state was short 622 doctors, the brief says.

Read more at AMA Wire.

The New Jersey Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling soon that may affect more than 2,000 cases before the state's courts. The court's decision could have an even more far-reaching impact and might eventually undermine medical research, patient-physician decision making and informed consent.

The issue is whether scientific testimony expressing refuted theories that have not been subjected to peer review and do not follow the traditional hierarchy of scientific evidence should be admissible in litigation involving plaintiffs who claim their inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) was caused by the drug isotretinoin, marketed as Accutane by Hoffmann-La Roche, formerly headquartered in Nutley, N.J.

The first lawsuit on this matter was filed in July 2003. A hearing on whether the plaintiffs' witnesses would be allowed to testify was held in February 2015, after which trial Judge Nelson C. Johnson barred their testimony. In May 2015, Johnson dismissed 2,076 related cases based on his ruling about the evidence.

This past July, a three-judge panel of the state appellate court reversed both the ruling barring the testimony and the dismissal of the cases. Hoffman-La Roche has requested the state Supreme Court to review this ruling.

The Litigation Center of the American Medical Association and State Medical Societies filed an amicus brief in support of Hoffmann-La Roche. The Medical Society of New Jersey, the American Academy of Dermatology and other medical organizations joined in the friend-of-the-court filing.

Read more at AMA Wire.

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