The American Medical Association (AMA) said it supports debate on Kentucky’s medical liability system.
According to AMA President Donald Palmisano, “The American Medical Association believes the door should be open to allow voters in Kentucky to hear debate and make a choice on how to fix the state’s broken medical liability system. Physicians strongly urge the Kentucky legislature to support a constitutional amendment that would allow enactment of legislation containing common-sense medical liability reforms. These proven reforms are supported by 78 percent of the voters in Kentucky, according to a recent poll.
“Kentucky is one of 19 states in a full-blown medical liability crisis because the current medical liability system rewards excessive litigation and fosters frivolous lawsuits. The cost of this unrestrained litigation increases liability insurance rates, forcing physicians to stop or limit medical services, take early retirement, or consider leaving the state.
“According to national figures from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, our broken medical liability system adds $70 billion to $126 billion to health care costs each year. This is a staggering expense all of us bear. Driving these costs is the incredible rate of growth in the nation’s average medical liability award, up 107 percent in 5 years from $1.9 million in 1996 to $3.9 million in 2001, according to Jury Verdict Research, an independent analytical firm.”
Palmisano said that every dollar that goes into this broken system is a dollar that can’t be spent on providing health care to the uninsured; improving access to medical care in rural areas; and spurring innovation in medical technologies, especially those that lead to safer medical practices.
“Physicians cannot allow the legal system to continue as an obstacle to patient care. We urge Kentucky’s policymakers to listen to the patients and physicians and protect access to medical care,” he added.
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