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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Lawsuit Reform Group Releases White Paper on New York’s Medical Liability Crisis

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 23, 2014
Contact: Phoebe Stonbely
518.512.5265
pstonbely@lrany.org

Lawsuit Reform Group Releases White Paper on New York’s Medical Liability Crisis

(Albany, NY) – The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY), a nonprofit advocacy group focused on legal reform, released a white paper today entitled “Condition Critical: New York’s Medical Liability Crisis.” The paper highlights the impact of New York’s legal climate on medical liability premiums and the corresponding effect on the medical profession.

The paper notes that New York has the highest per capita medical liability payouts in the nation and now accounts for 20% of all payouts in the country with only 6% of the population. Correspondingly, medical liability insurance premiums for New York’s physicians and hospitals are among the highest in the nation, exceeding $330,000 annually for some specialties. The paper claims that both the total cost of defending medical liability lawsuits and insurance premiums have increased significantly.

The paper also analyzed publicly available financial information for New York’s medical liability insurers and found they are operating at the lowest profit margin in the nation. The paper further notes that two of the three largest carriers remain technically insolvent.

Lastly, the paper highlights New York’s ongoing physician shortage, which is currently estimated to be over 1,000. New York ranks 28th in the nation for retention of physicians from undergraduate medical education, and 75% of hospitals have reported difficulty recruiting physicians due to shortages.

LRANY Executive Director Tom Stebbins stressed the role of New York’s lawsuit system as a fundamental driver of the crisis. “New York’s medical liability system is buckling under the weight of litigation, much of it either weak on the merits or outright frivolous. Meanwhile, the entrenched personal injury lawyer lobby spends millions every year to block reforms to our regressive and archaic civil justice system, which ultimately hurts healthcare providers, patients, and taxpayers.”

The white paper recommends the enactment of comprehensive liability reform to create safeguards against abusive litigation. Said Stebbins, “For years physicians, healthcare providers, insurers, and tort reform advocates have warned of a coming medical liability crisis. Now that the crisis is here, New York must take action.”

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The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY) is a nonpartisan not-for-profit association of businesses, professionals, healthcare providers, membership organizations, taxpayers, and concerned citizens committed to changing New York’s legal system to help create jobs and energize our economy.

PDF Press Release                  PDF White Paper

LRANY Slams NYPIRG Physician Report

docFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: (Albany, NY) – Today, the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY), a non-partisan nonprofit advocacy group focused on state-level lawsuit reform, released a report entitled: “The Doctor is in…Another State: How NYPIRG’s Physician Supply Report Misses the Mark.” The report highlights serious flaws in the New York Public Interest Group’s (NYPIRG) recent report “The Doctor Is In: New York State’s Increasing Number of Physicians,” which claimed that no physician shortage exists in New York, and that high medical malpractice rates do not affect physician supply.

The first glaring flaw, LRANY contends, is that the report presents only the current per capita number of physicians, and fails to account for long-term trends. LRANY analyzed physician supply data for 50 states between 2008 and 2012, and found that total physician supply increased in nearly all states. The national average per capita growth in total physician supply was 6.04 per 100,000, yet New York’s per capita supply grew by only 2.3 per 100,000, barely one third the national average. Thirty-seven states performed better than New York, including states that have enacted key tort reforms such as Texas, California, Wisconsin, and Florida.

Tom Stebbins, LRANY’s Executive Director, said “NYPIRG is clearly trying to manipulate the numbers to support their political agenda – which is closely aligned with the personal injury trial lawyer lobby.”

The LRANY report also highlights that NYPRIG’s claim that there is no physician shortage in New York is unsupported by the underlying data, which shows only that physician supply has increased in New York. NYPRIG’s claim that this demonstrates that no physician shortage exists is invalid because it does not also account for the total need for physicians, which has increased at a greater rate. LRANY points out that excluding New York City, the Healthcare Association of New York (HANYS) recently estimated New York’s total physician shortage to be over 1,000. Seventy-five percent of hospitals surveyed by HANYS reported that the recruitment of primary care physicians was very difficult due to shortages, while 87% indicated that their ability to recruit physicians was the same or worse than the previous year.

Lastly, the group notes that the NYPIRG report is critically flawed because it claims there is little evidence that our state’s high medical liability premiums are impacting the number of physicians that practice in New York. Said Stebbins, “Of course NYPIRG didn’t find a connection between high liability insurance rates and doctors leaving our state – they didn’t bother to ask the doctors.” Stebbins pointed to the case of Dr. Wendy Villalobos, an OB-GYN who formerly practiced in the Bronx. “Her premiums were $186,000 each year. When she moved to Texas, which enacted comprehensive lawsuit reform in 2003, her premiums fell to just 20% what they were in New York.” Stebbins also highlighted a recent survey by the American Medical Group Association which found that financial considerations top the list of reasons that physicians relocate.

“The bottom line,” said Stebbins, “is that high medical liability premiums driven by our out-of-control legal system are hindering New York’s ability to attract and retain qualified physicians.”

The full report can be accessed here.

The Buffalo News, Letter: Medical Liability Reform Will Ease Doctor Shortage

doctorToday,  The Buffalo News published a letter to the editor written by LRANY’s Executive Director, Thomas Stebbins, which targets New York’s medical liability crisis as a key factor in the looming doctor shortage our state is facing.

An Excerpt:

“Kudos to The News for reporting on the doctor shortage in upstate and Western New York. Unfortunately, the article cited “experts” saying that the reason we are facing a doctor shortage is that upstate New York lacks “amenities” and has “brutal winter weather.”

As upstaters, we know that this area is a wonderful area to live, with plenty of amenities that cannot be found anywhere else.

The real reason that doctors are not choosing upstate New York is the astronomical cost of lawsuits and medical liability insurance. New York’s medical liability payouts are the highest in the nation – more than three times the national average.”

Read Full Letter

LRANY Video Series: Non-economic Damage Caps

This week, to continue LRANY’s video series, we bring you a video on non-economic damage caps in New York State.  Unknown to many is the difference between economic and non-economic damages.  Economic damages include all medical expenses, lost wages, future earnings and punitive damages. While damages for non-economic losses include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of companionship, and other intangible injuries.  Because these damages involve no direct or calculable economic loss, it is difficult for juries to assign a dollar value to these losses. As a result, these awards tend to be erratic, and often times, excessive.

LRANY supports the rational limitation of non-economic damages. A limit would eliminate excessive jury awards and reduce financial incentives to file frivolous lawsuits. Most importantly, such a limit would have no impact on the amount an injured person could receive for economic losses such as past and future medical bills, lost wages, future earnings, medical devices, and any other quantifiable losses.

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http://youtu.be/rRdCgnQly04

Times Ledger: Lawsuits Drive Up Healthcare Costs

MedicalThe Times Leger recently published a letter to the editor written by LRANY’s Executive Director, Thomas B. Stebbins regarding New York’s current medical liability crisis.

An excerpt:

” One of the highlights of city Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s campaign for mayor was his arrest at a protest against the closure of another city hospital. De Blasio’s primary solution was and continues to be to throw money at the problem, but unless we address the spiraling costs of lawsuits, New York hospitals will continue to close.

Due to lawsuits, medical liability insurance in New York costs more than anywhere else in the United States — double that of the next highest state, California. Despite these outrageous costs, we as taxpayers are forced to subsidize our broken medical liability insurance system to the tune of $150 million a year.”

Read Full Letter

LRANY Video Series: New York’s Medical Liability Crisis

This week, to continue the LRANY video series, we bring to you a video on the medical liability crisis our state is currently facing.

Last year alone New Yorkers paid $127 million to subsidize medical-malpractice insurance.  Even with this subsidy, doctors across the state still pay astronomically high amounts for insurance, some as high as $200,000 annually; the highest in the nation by an astounding margin.  With doctors in New York being among the most highly skilled and safest in the nation, the high cost is not indicative of the performance of our medical professionals but is a direct reflection of our broken legal system.

Our current system allows for a continuous flow lawsuit abuse often offering mind boggling damages for “pain-and-suffering”.  These high costs are forcing facilities out of business and pushing our doctors out of New York to other states where measures have been put in place to help alleviate these cost.  Since Since 2000, 19 hospitals throughout the NYC alone have been forced to close their doors, impacting many New Yorkers’ access to health care.

Our state needs to pass true reforms to decrease the cost of medical liability insurance, increase the access to healthcare and stop closures of hospitals.

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http://youtu.be/qZ7dhUiFBSs

OPINION: Stop letting our hospitals die!

couloir d'hopital2As in recent news, we are continuously seeing our downstate hospitals struggling with the threat of disclosure, the necessary changes to our damaged medical liability system become more evident than ever.  This week, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle shared a piece written by LRANY Executive Director, Thomas B. Stebbins, regarding this growing problem.

An Excerpt:

“The looming threat of yet another Brooklyn hospital closing (Another Dying Brooklyn Hospital, July 23, 2013) is a sad reminder of just how broken New York’s medical liability system really is. The citizens of our state are continuing be held victim this downward spiral substantially limiting access to healthcare.    

Last year alone New Yorkers paid $127 million to subsidize medical-malpractice insurance.  Even with this subsidy, doctors across the state still pay astronomical amounts for insurance, some as high as $200,000 annually, far more than their counterparts in other states”. 

Read More

The Daily Star – Fox Judgment Is Bad for New Yorkers

This past weekend, The Daily Star ran an opinion piece written by LRANY Executive Director, Thomas Stebbins, which was in response to the recent news that an Otsego County jury awarded a woman $126 million in a lawsuit against the local Fox Hospital.  Stebbins highlights the impact that such a large judgment has on the hospital, the community and the state.

An excerpt:

“The recent news of a historic, nine-figure judgment against Fox Hospital (“Fox Hospital hit with $126M verdict,” Oct. 3) should serve as a reminder for why health care costs in New York remain among the highest in the nation.

An Otsego County jury awarded the plaintiff $126m to pay for a lifetime of care and lost wages. The jury found Fox Hospital liable for the woman’s heart condition and decided Fox should compensate her for her injuries. However, her medical care and lost wages are just a fraction of the total $126 million award. The remainder is for non-economic or “pain and suffering” damages.”

Read More

VIDEO: Tom Stebbins Talks New York Lawsuit Reform With Trial Attorney David Lesch

LRANY Executive Director, Tom Stebbins, was a recent guest on “Today’s Verdict“, a TV show hosted by trial attorney David Lesch.  Tom discussed common sense reforms to our legal system that would create jobs and lower costs to New Yorkers.  During the interview, Tom addressed the issue of trespasser responsibility, which allows trespassers to sue property owners for injuries; as well as the antiquated ‘Scaffold Law‘ which holds employers absolutely liable for any elevation related injury, regardless of their proportion of fault.

We thank David Lesch and the team at “Today’s Verdict” for having Tom as a guest.  The naturally opposing views of a trial attorney and a tort reform activist certainly made for an interesting interview, and hopefully brought the two sides closer to common ground.

Click here to watch the October 9th interview. 

New York – Medical liability “crisis state”

The chairman of the American Medical Association (AMA) recently wrote a letter to the editor of a story published in the New York Times. The letter thanked the writer for stressing the need for tort reform and explained its benefits and widespread support:

“To the Editor:

The American Medical Association appreciates that your Oct. 7 editorial “Not Their Job” acknowledged the need for tort reform and the current medical liability system’s role in driving up health costs for patients.

The A.M.A. and many others strongly believe that medical liability reform provides a solid solution for reducing the federal deficit and improving a civil justice system that has failed injured patients.”  Read more.

 

The current medical liability system in New York is completely unsustainable.  Medical liability premiums are at an all time high and continue to rise, this threatens New Yorker’s access to care and forces doctors out of our state.  New York is in such desperate need of reform that it is listed by the AMA as a ” Crisis State”.

LRANY is working on numerous priorities to reverse this medical liability crisis including:

-Capping non-economic damages

-Raising standards for medical expert witness testimony

-Creating specialized “healthcare courts”

These are just a few of the many priorities that LRANY is fighting for to fix our broken medical liability system.

Join the fight and make your voice heard!