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Jul 30

A Better Idea for Medical Malpractice

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by Wayne W. Oliver

Originally published in the Florida (Jacksonville) Times Union on July 24, 2015

While many focus on the number of Floridians with health insurance, equal attention should be paid to the factors driving the costs of delivering health care.

We must develop an effective mechanism to contain costs while considering state options for extending coverage to more people.

Physicians fearful of litigation have turned to defensive medicine. This costs all Floridians more than $40 billion per year.

According to the Gallup Organization, this accounts for as much as 26 percent of overall health care spending.

A proposal called the Patients’ Compensation System is intended to transform the broken medical malpractice system in Florida and preserve the physician-patient relationship.

In essence, the proposal would put medical malpractice in a streamlined administrative system. The administrative model allows for a less contentious, fair and timely determination of any compensation that should be paid to an injured patient.

During a House Health and Human Services Committee meeting, Chairman Jason Broduer, R-Sanford, revealed an improved version of the proposal.

The newly designed Patients’ Compensation System responds to the valuable feedback from Florida’s physicians and other stakeholders with three key fundamental changes.

The new proposal:

■ Applies exclusively to physicians.

■ Significantly decreases the cost of medical malpractice coverage because physicians will no longer need to purchase professional liability insurance. Under the new proposal, an administrative fee will be determined based on the specialty practice of Florida physicians — with the fee being significantly lower than current medical malpractice rates.

■ Will not increase reporting to the National Practitioner Database and Boards of Medicine.

Affordability extends to everyone across the health care spectrum whether utilizing private or public health insurance. The Patients Compensation System would make Florida a national model for how to protect the physician-patient relationship while bringing down health care spending in Florida.

Wayne W. Oliver, Executive Director, Patients for Fair Compensation, Atlanta, Georgia

 

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