Washington, D.C. – Saying the nation’s medical justice system is broken, U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, recently introduced a bill designed to repair the court system patients depend on for compensation when they are injured by healthcare errors.
“Let's face it, our medical justice system doesn’t work for patients or healthcare providers. It doesn’t provide prompt or fair compensation to injured patients and it’s racked by inconsistencies and delays,” Enzi said. “Wyoming has taken steps to address the issue of rising health costs and this bill would further those efforts. Doctors leaving the state due to high malpractice insurance bills is an all too common occurrence that we all pay for in the long run with rising insurance costs.”
The “Fair and Reliable Medical Justice Act,” S.1337, would give states funding and allow them to choose from three innovative model programs that provide alternatives to costly medical tort litigation. The programs include:
• Early Disclosure and Compensation – a State would provide health care providers and organizations with immunity from lawsuits if they disclose an error that caused an injury and make a timely offer to compensate an injured patient for his or her actual net economic loss, plus a defined and scheduled payment for pain and suffering if appropriate.
• Administrative Determination of Compensation – a State would set up classes of avoidable injuries and establish an administrative board to resolve claims related to those injuries. The state would have the option to administer the program as a fault-based or no-fault model. The administrative board would develop a schedule of compensation that would include payment for the patient’s actual net economic loss, plus a defined and scheduled payment for pain and suffering if appropriate.
• Special Health Care Court – a State would establish a special court for adjudication of disputes over injuries allegedly caused by health care providers and organizations. The State would ensure that the presiding judges have expertise in and understanding of health care. Such judges would make
Others share Enzi’s enthusiasm for the bill.
Former U.S. Senator Al Simpson of Wyoming said the bill, “...represents a critically important step in developing a more reliable system of medical justice.”
Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich complimented the bill, saying, “For too long doctors have been driven out of practice and Americans have found themselves losing their healthcare because of excess litigation. This bill is a very creative effort to find a new and better solution.”
The bill was introduced in the Senate on June 29.