Wyo. Healthcare Commission Lauded by CARH

October 21, 2004

Wyoming Healthcare Commission was lauded Thursday by the Coalition for Affordable and Reliable Healthcare (CARH) for reportedly showing evidence, once again, that capping non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases will reduce malpractice costs and stop our nation’s growing healthcare crisis.

According to its study, capping non-economic damages at $250,000 could lead to a 15 percent reduction in malpractice losses. This reportedly represents a tremendous drop in costs that are forcing many doctors to close their doors in Wyoming due to skyrocketing malpractice insurance expenses.

“Too many Americans can’t find quality healthcare because runaway jury awards are driving malpractice liability insurance costs higher and forcing doctors to shut their doors,” said John Thomas, president of CARH. “This report proves that capping non-economic damages has a very real effect in lowering overall malpractice costs.”

Wyoming is among 20 other states identified by the American Medical
Association (AMA) as a healthcare crisis state because high malpractice costs are driving doctors away. This leads to more and more patients who are losing access to healthcare due to a shortage of physicians.

Average malpractice awards have reportedly tripled to $3.5 million since 1994, driving medical liability insurance premiums up over 500 percent. In 2001, 12 juries awarded verdicts over $20 million, including a $269 million judgment in Texas. The cost of America’s tort system is reportedly predicted to go from $200 billion last year to $300 billion by 2005.

Thomas cited the timeliness of this report for Wyoming voters:

“In Wyoming, medical malpractice reform is on everybody’s mind. This report shows voters there that they can enact meaningful changes to their healthcare system on November 2, when they decide whether to accept the two proposed constitutional amendments that will reduce malpractice costs and help bring an end to their current healthcare crisis.

“This will allow physicians to provide quality care without the crippling
costs that have been driving healthcare providers out of business.”

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