Doctors & Supporters Show up in Lansing for Tort Reform Bills - No Vote Yet
Physicians, residents, medical students, Alliance members, medical group managers, MSMS staff, and other supporters attended a four-hour, standing-room only committee hearing on July 18 about the "Patients First Reform Package," a.k.a., tort reform bills. However, after four hearings, the Senate Insurance Committee still hasn't voted on the bills.
Click image above to view Doctor Bizon's testimony.
Click image above to view Doctor Gibson Fountain's testimony.
Click above image to view Doctor Newman's testimony.
Despite the lack of a vote, MSMS and supporters succeeded in emphasizing key points, such as the impact of these bills on physician supply and patient access, the lack of "blanket immunity" in these bills for physicians, and the difference between liability cases with merit and those without.
MSMS TESTIMONYView a photo slideshow of the event>>
MSMS President John G. Bizon, MD, a Calhoun County otolaryngologist, testified alongside his daughter, Catherine A. Burtrum, DO, a Kent County general surgery resident. “Even when every effort is made to take variables into account, a patient may endure a bad outcome that has nothing to do with negligence,” Doctor Bizon explained to the Committee. “These bills seek to build on tort reforms passed in 1993 to balance patient access to the courts with protection for physicians against meritless cases.”
MSMS Board member Cheryl Gibson Fountain, MD, a Wayne County obstetrician/gynecologist, directly correlated tort reform with access to quality health care by explaining what happened prior to 1993 tort reforms being passed. “Physicians were leaving the metro Detroit area in large numbers, and obstetrical care was nearly impossible to find for pregnant moms living inside the city,” she said. “My experience in Detroit is particularly alarming because I see firsthand that when physicians retire in underserved areas, they simply can’t find younger physicians to take over their practice."
MSMS Immediate Past President Steven E. Newman, MD, an Oakland County neurologist, directly addressed claims made by bill opponents. “We do NOT seek blanket immunity from any act or omission; we are asking for the same standard of negligence that applies to attorneys to be applied to physicians,” he clarified.
“Physicians are continuously striving to improve patient safety and health care quality,” Doctor Newman said, citing his own experience as an advisor to the Greater Detroit Area Health Council. “Michigan physicians are national leaders in multiple areas of quality improvement and reduction of medical errors. In other words, prior tort reforms have enhanced—not hindered—the efforts of Michigan physicians to improve quality and safety for our patients.”
Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Cliff Taylor, and MSMS Legal Counsel Patrick J. Haddad, JD, testified on behalf of MSMS, as well.
NEWS MEDIA COVERAGE
Several news media outlets covered the event. Also, Doctor Bizon, Doctor Gibson Fountain, and MSMS House Speaker Rose M. Ramirez, MD, a Kent County family physician, gave interviews to local TV news stations. See coverage below:
--Patients Fear Changes to Malpractice Legislation (WILX-TV Lansing)
--Tim Skubick: Doctors like proposed medical malpractice reforms, but what about their patients? (MLive.com)
--Med Mal Proposal Hung Up In Senate Committee (MIRS)
--Senate Insurance Committee Continues Wait On Tort Reform Vote (Gongwer)
--Medical malpractice reform: Giving bad doctors immunity or improving access to health care? (MLive.com)
MSMS thanks everyone who showed up on July 18 to support these bills! MSMS continues to work with key stakeholder groups and key lawmakers to move the bills during the next session. Here are some things you can do in the meantime:
1) Spread the word about the importance of these bills to as many people as possible by email, Facebook, Twitter, website, phone,text, IM, fax—whatever you can do!
2) Keep flooding Senate Committee members’ offices--and your own senator's office--with phone calls and Action Center messages>>
--Talking Points - Patients First Reform Package
--Q & A Sheet - Patients First Reform Package
--MSMS Action Center
For more information, contact Colin Ford at MSMS at 517-336-5737 or firstname.lastname@example.org.