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Monday, July 7th 2003

The Honorable John Ensign
United States Senate
364 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-2805

Dear Senator Ensign:

On behalf of the American Hospital Association (AHA) and its 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 Patients First Act of 2003 (S.11).  The AHA applauds your leadership in addressing the important issue of reforming our nation's health care liability system.  

Soaring medical liability insurance premiums are forcing many hospitals to consider difficult decisions - from cutting services to closing clinics.  And in communities across the nation, physicians are faced with early retirement or leaving patients that need them. The bottom line: access to care is compromised.

California, however, 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 more than 25 years, MICRA has demonstrated that patients' rights can be protected at the same time that medical liability costs are reduced.  And your bill contains the provisions that can help make this happen at the national level:

  • A $250,000 cap on non-economic damages 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
  • Reform of the joint and several liability rule
  • 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.  We stand ready to work with you to enact meaningful health care liability reforms.  Please call us if you have questions.


Rick Pollack
Executive Vice President

cc: Majority Leader Frist
     Majority Whip McConnell


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