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Hal Dasinger

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Medical-malpractice reform could make things much worse




Hal Dasinger,  a lawyer and vice president for government relations  of  Napa, Calif. -based Doctors Company, America’s largest physician-owned medical-malpractice insurer, writes:

“In recent years, physicians, other healthcare providers, and lawmakers across the United States have been addressed by keynote speakers, pitched to, surveyed, and lobbied by people promoting a proposal that would replace civil litigation for claims of medical professional liability with an administrative process for compensating patients for avoidable injuries.”

“The most recent versions of the bills seeking to install this process rely on physician surcharges to pay for patient compensation, costs of handling the claims, and presumably a fee for the entity providing the administrative support. If any state enacts this proposal, when the actual costs exceed the stated estimates and swamp the available funds, some combination of undesirable effects will follow soon after: Physician surcharges will increase, payments to patients will decrease, or the criteria for compensation will tighten—or perhaps all of these will occur.

“In short, the benefits promised will disappear, but the shortcomings of the administrative process will remain. The state will have to subsidize the fund or scrap the program altogether, and taxpayers, physicians, and patients will be left picking up the pieces.”


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