How one Republican is trying to implement Medical Malpractice Reform
In this latest episode of Healthcare Matters, we speak with United States Representative Richard Hudson about the ACCESS Act if 2019, a medical malpractice reform bill the North Carolina congressman sponsored in the House of Representatives. The bill would help reduce medical malpractice claims against physicians, limit the amount of money plaintiff attorneys can make off of med-mal cases. In addition, we can assume that the cost of medical malpractice insurance for doctors would be reduced.
Rep. Hudson also discusses how his legislation would respect states' rights and why republicans and conservatives favor a free market system over what we currently have in place. He also gives examples of conservative healthcare ideas that are making a real difference in everyday Americans' lives.
Rep. Richard Hudson represents the 8th District of North Carolina and has served in Congress since 2013. You can contact him here: https://hudson.house.gov/Healthcare Matters is hosted by Michael Matray, the editor of Medical Liability Monitor, the only independent source of consistent, reliable coverage and fresh perspectives on the medical professional liability (medical malpractice) insurance industry. Healthcare Matters is sponsored by Cunningham Group, the medical malpractice insurance specialists. Please subscribe to our YouTube Channel so you never miss a Healthcare Matters episode.
Mike Matray: Today we’ll be speaking with Congressman Richard Hudson, a champion of medical malpractice reform who represents North Carolina’s 8th congressional district. He recently introduced the ACCESS Act— a bill to reduce meritless malpractice claims against physicians and lower medical malpractice insurance costs — in the 2019-2020 Congress.
Congressman Hudson, welcome to the show. Can you tell us which part of the ACCESS Act is most critical to reducing the number of meritless medical malpractice claims?
Congressman Richard Hudson: Well, I think, you know, having reasonable statute of limitations on filing lawsuits is important. I think having caps on punitive damages is important. I think speeding up the process, where you have more people entering into arbitration or settling before getting to the court, it helps patients by speeding up the process. And then I think by limiting the amount of money that goes to attorneys in light of going to patients, I think is really important.
Mike Matray: As a conservative lawmaker, how does the ACCESS Act address the issue of state’s rights? Especially if states have already legislated a noneconomic damage cap?
Congressman Richard Hudson: Sure. Well, states still have the right to set their own caps and some states may choose to set caps that are higher than what my legislation calls for, but I think states have a right to do that. What we’re trying to do is set a federal benchmark and encourage states to meet that benchmark. And, you know, again, only 33 states have caps on damages. You know, for those other states that don’t have any standard, this would put a standard in place.
Mike Matray: Why is it necessary to limit the amount of money a plaintiff’s attorney can make?
Congressman Richard Hudson: Well, because the patient who’s been harmed deserves that money. And, you know, I think most attorneys are good people doing things for the right reasons, but there are attorneys out there who have practices that prey on people and, you know, that seek out these types of lawsuits, and then shop around for courts, and they hire expert witnesses who do this for a living also. And so, there’s sort of a cottage industry out there that takes advantage of people who’ve been harmed. And, you know, we want to put an end to that. You know, this legislation is very pro-patient.
Mike Matray: The U.S. healthcare delivery system — currently configured — is not a free market. Is it even possible to reengineer such a leviathan into a free market model?
Congressman Richard Hudson: That’s what Republicans have been trying to do. You know, in our repeal and replace legislation last year, what we were trying to do is bring market forces to bear in healthcare. And, you know, the way to do it is to put…make the patient the decision-maker and put more power in the hands of the patients. That’s why conservatives, we support things like health savings accounts. That’s why we support more transparency in billing. You know, that’s why we want to empower patients to make these decisions about what insurance do they need for themselves and their family. You know, a free-market healthcare system would have dozens of options. Whereas if you’re on the Affordable Care Act in places like North Carolina, except for a few counties, you only have one option.
Mike Matray: Can you share examples where a free market has been successful in the U.S. healthcare system?
Congressman Richard Hudson: These health saving plans that you see popping up usually with Christian conservative groups or Christian groups, where individuals will join together and pay for each other’s health care. And we’ve seen cases where healthcare costs are dramatically lower for them than for people who are in the insurance market. So, that’s just another example where people working together, using market forces are able to bring down their healthcare costs. You know, there’s a lot of examples, but health savings accounts is one of those examples, where, you know, you want to get…you want to take decision-making out of the hands of insurance company and put it in the hands of consumers. But to do that, you also have to have transparency. You have to have the ability for them to shop around and you have to create a marketplace, so they have options. And you create a marketplace, you create incentives for people to compete for business. Then that’s how you get there.
Mike Matray: Thank you so much for being on the show.
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