AMA Backs Ore. Ballot Measure

The American Medical Association (AMA) is making a National House Call this week to join Oregon physicians and hospitals
in urging a “Yes” vote on ballot measure 35.

If approved, this measure would amend the state constitution to restore a $500,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical liability cases — a measure that the Oregon Medical Association (OMA) said has proven results in Oregon.

“Oregon is one of 20 states whose health care system is ‘in crisis’ as a direct result of doctors being forced to stop providing essential medical services because of skyrocketing medical liability costs,” said AMA President John Nelson. “This crisis must be stopped. Oregon voters have a unique opportunity to stand up and say, ‘we want to protect the future of health care in our state.’ A ‘Yes’ vote on measure 35 will help protect that future.”

In 1987, a $500,000 cap was first placed on non-economic damages in Oregon through bi-partisan legislation designed to avert a health care access crisis similar to the one the state is facing today. Shortly after the reform went into effect, medical liability insurance premiums stabilized and began to decline. But Oregonians once again reportedly found their health care access in jeopardy after the Oregon State Supreme Court ruled in 1999 that the Legislature did not have the constitutional authority to enact the non-economic damage award

“A cap on non-economic damage awards worked in Oregon for more than a decade to protect patient access to health care, and it will work again,” said OMA President John Moorhead. “It was only after the Supreme Court reversed the cap that personal injury lawyers’ frivolous lawsuits and search for a jackpot payday began to hurt our state. Greedy personal injury lawyers are lining their pocketbooks at the expense of patients’ access to quality health care.”

The AMA and OMA will be traveling from Medford to Portland to meet with local physicians, patients and community leaders to explain how proven medical liability reforms, including a cap on non-economic damages, can reportedly save millions of dollars and protect patient access to care.