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Thursday, February 6th 2003

Representative Greenwood

February 6, 2003

The Honorable Jim Greenwood
United States House of Representatives
2436 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-4276


Dear Representative Greenwood:

On behalf of the American Hospital Association (AHA) and our more than 5,000 member hospitals, health care systems, networks and other providers of care, I am writing to express our strong support for your bill, the Helping to Ensure Affordable, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare Act of 2003. The AHA applauds your continued leadership in addressing the important issue of reforming our nation’s health care liability system. Your common sense, bipartisan approach is especially welcome.

Hospitals are experiencing dramatic increases in the cost of health care liability insurance. Coupled with a growing workforce shortage, reductions in Medicare and Medicaid payments, and redoubled disaster preparedness efforts, this additional burden threatens our ability to continue to appropriately staff emergency departments, recruit new physicians to high-risk specialties, and, in many areas, deliver babies.

While many states are trying to solve the problem, California stands as a model for the nation. The AHA believes that the California-style reforms enacted under the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) of 1975 and reflected in your bill should be adopted at the federal level. For over 25 years, MICRA has demonstrated that patients’ rights can be protected at the same time that medical liability costs are reduced. The MICRA-type reforms in your bill can help achieve this:

  • A $250,000 cap on non-economic damages (pain and suffering), and full payment of all other costs and damages incurred
  • Collateral source payment offsets, thus preventing double payment for the same expense by two or more insurance companies or other payers
  • Periodic payment of future damages over $50,000
  • A three-year statute of repose, and one-year statute of limitations
  • Joint and several liability
  • Limitation of plaintiff attorney contingency fees

We believe that enactment of these reforms will allow patients to continue to receive the health care services they need and deserve, while also reforming a broken liability system. We stand ready to work with Congress to enact meaningful professional liability reforms. Please call us if you have questions.

Sincerely,

Rick Pollack
Executive Vice President

 

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