side note: The Louisiana Medical Society took heed from the woes of states like Wisconsin and New Hampshire. Both state governments raided their Patient Compensation Fund as a way of balancing their budgets. Both states’ medical societies fought the move in court; both medical societies came out winners. While both PCFs were eventually given their monies back, Louisiana voters enshrined the independence of their state’s PCF in the state constitution via a ballot initiative. The Louisiana Constitution now establishes the PCF as immune to any legislative attempt to take its funds.
On Oct. 22, Louisiana voters approved an amendment to the state constitution that authorizes the legislature “to establish a private custodial fund, designated as the Patient’s Compensation Fund, for the use, benefit and protection of medical malpractice claimants and private healthcare provider members; to provide that assets of the fund shall not be state property.”
Previous to the ballot initiative, the fund was subject to appropriation by the state legislature for other budgeting purposes. The amendment protects the Patient’s Compensation Fund from legislative appropriation by establishing it in the Louisiana Constitution and defining it as a private custodial fund to be used only for the benefit and protection of medical malpractice claimants and qualified healthcare providers.
The Patient’s Compensation Fund was created by statute in 1975 for the purpose of ensuring that affordable medical malpractice coverage is available to private healthcare providers, while also providing a reliable source of compensation for legitimate claims of injury due to medical malpractice.
Six other states have funds similar to Louisiana’s Patient’s Compensation Fund. The Wisconsin Legislature removed $200 million from that state’s patient compensation fund in 2007 to help balance the state general budget; the Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered that it be repaid. Although the Louisiana Legislature has never dipped into the Patient’s Compensation Fund to pay for other state programs, proponents of the amendment were concerned this could happen in the future.
Side note: Republican congressmen from Louisiana are eager for the new session of Congress to begin. The #1 item on their agenda…. the repeal of Obama’s historic health care overhaul. But there is one problem, they are uncertain of what they will propose in its place. Experts believe that the vote against health care reform will amount to little more that “political lip service” since the vote will follow party lines and the Republicans lack the numbers needed to pass a bill to overturn Obamacare. The Republicans have been against Obamacare from the beginning calling it a government take over. They have proposed alternative measures including medical malpractice tort reform as a way of lowering heath care costs.
By Bill Barrow
As a new Congress takes office today, the Obama administration and Senate Democrats have launched an offensive against House Republicans’ promise to repeal the president’s new health-care overhaul. But the new majority, including members of the Louisiana delegation, isn’t blinking, even as it is yet unclear what specific policy path they want to take in the long run with Democrats still in control of the Senate and the White House.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called it a “bad idea” to reverse many provisions that are already in place, particularly expanding Medicare drug coverage, tax credits for some businesses that provide employee coverage and new rules that make some insurance companies spend more on actual care, while making it harder for the firms to drop policy holders. The first major round of changes went into effect in September, almost six months after President Barack Obama signed the bill. More provisions were triggered at the start of the year.
“The new law is already helping Americans get the care they need and establishing a level of accountability for insurance companies,” Sebelius told reporters Tuesday in a national conference call. “Those are goals we’ve been talking about for years, and we’re just now making progress. That’s why it’s so surprising to hear members of Congress wanting to go back to the old status quo that was not working for so many Americans and small businesses.”
Read the Rest at NOLA.com
Side note: Doctors and trial lawyers in Virginia reached a compromise dealing with increasing the state’s medical malpractice insurance cap. The cap is currently set at 2 million dollars and the two parties agreed to yearly increments of $50,000 for the next 20 years. Trial lawyers lobbied for increases to the cap in order to keep up with the annual rise in health insurance premiums. Doctors argue that an increase in the cap would mean higher medical malpractice insurance rates for them.
The cap on awards for malpractice lawsuits in Virginia is going up $50,000 a year for the next 20 years.
A compromise was made November 1, 2010 between trial lawyers and doctors after two lawmakers threatened them to reach a compromise.
In 1999, an incremental increase was made each year until the cap awards reached $2M. That’s when trial lawyers complained that it didn’t to go up in order to keep up with the annual rise in health insurance premiums, but doctors argued against it saying an increase in the cap would mean higher malpractice insurance premiums for them.
In 2009, two lawmakers, Richmond Senator Henry Marsh and Delegate David Albo of Fairfax threatened to come up with a decision on their own, if the two groups didn’t reach a compromise.
Finally, in November, the two groups reached an agreement. Here’s how it works: In 2012, the $2M cap awards will be raised by $50,000 each year for the next 20 years.
Finish the story over at WTVR
Side note: Medical malpractice insurance reform is dealt a blow when med-mal insurance caps in Louisiana are declared unconstitutional. Unfortunately the malpractice case in question is so tragic that the verdict sounds reasonable. This case serves as a reminder why the medical community must help police itself to weed out the negligent, and unqualified, medical professionals who are responsible for the lion’s share of malpractice suits. The case involves a small child whose cancer was misdiagnosed by a Louisiana clinic causing permanent disfigurement and blindness. The nurse practitioner was running the clinic even though she had no formal education past high school. According to Louisiana law a nurse practitioner must have at least a BS and a Masters degree in medicine but a grandfather clause loophole allowed the unqualified nurse practitioner to diagnosis illness, and prescribe medications, with only a high school diploma. Had the child’s cancer been properly diagnosed she could have been treated and lived a completely normal life; instead she is now permanently disabled.
By JEFF D. GORMAN
Court House News
Louisiana’s limit on medical malpractice awards is unconstitutional, a state appeals court ruled. Joe and Helena Oliver sought relief from the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act, which shrank the damage award they received from $6.2 million to $500,000. The Olivers’ daughter, Taylor, developed severe injuries after she was treated by a nurse who was practicing with only a high school degree.
Susan Duhon, a registered nurse practitioner and sole owner of the Magnolia Clinic, treated Taylor for vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. Taylor visited the clinic 32 times in the first year of her life, and Duhon prescribed more than 30 medications to her. Duhon had a statutory duty to consult a physician, but Taylor never saw a doctor during any of her visits. When Taylor was 14 months old, another hospital diagnosed her with neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer. One of the signs is severe bruising around the eyes, which Taylor had presented with at the Magnolia Clinic when she was 6 months old.
Read the Rest of the Article
side note: This doesn’t pass the sniff test. The Louisiana state legislature recently passed a law that forbids access to the state’s excess liability medical malpractice insurance fund to doctors that perform abortions. Of course, those doctors still must pay into the fund, but cannot access it because those doctors choose to perform a specific, legal medical procedure. In all likelihood, this law will be struck down by the courts, meanwhile costing Louisiana taxpayers a untold dollars defending the clearly improper law.
On Friday, six abortion clinics filed a federal lawsuit challenging two Louisiana abortion laws, including one (SB 528) that requires women seeking abortions to receive ultrasound exams and another (HB 1453) that prevents doctors who perform elective abortions from obtaining medical malpractice insurance, the AP/New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Both laws were overwhelmingly approved by the state Legislature last session, marking the latest development in an “annual ritual” lasting nearly two decades whereby lawmakers typically pass at least one law imposing abortion restrictions and abortion-rights supporters challenging it in court, according to the Times-Picayune.
story continues here