Barbour Touts Tort Reform; Insurance Reformers Answer | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Barbour Touts Tort Reform; Insurance Reformers Answer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Today, Gov. Haley Barbour held a press conference to declare a victory for his controversial tort-reform legislation. Barbour's statement is verbatim below; a PDF of a 10-page response by the Americans for Insurance Reform is linked here.

(RIDGELAND, Mississippi) - Governor Haley Barbour today applauded the Medical Assurance Company of Mississippi's (MACM) decision to reduce its medical liability insurance rates across the board by 15.5 percent for 2008. "This is the latest in a long line of benefits Mississippians have reaped since passage of meaningful tort reform in 2004," Governor Barbour said.

"I'm delighted with MACM's decision to reduce medical liability rates and confident this reduction will be significant to our efforts to retain and attract the very best healthcare professionals from across the country."

Governor Barbour made his comments at a news conference held at the headquarters of the Mississippi State Medical Association. He also noted that Mississippi's economic development successes over the past three years have resulted, in part, from the improved civil justice climate
prompted by tort reform. He said companies that offer higher-paying, higher-skilled jobs for Mississippi workers are more willing to look at locating or expanding in Mississippi when they know the civil justice system is fair.

Tort reform was also cited by state Insurance Commissioner George Dale. "The success and impact of tort reform in Mississippi continue to have a major impact on medical malpractice insurance with yet another premium reduction from MACM. Offering more reductions in premiums is a key element in attracting more badly needed doctors to the state," Dale said.

This reduction marks the fifth time MACM, the largest insurer of physicians in Mississippi, has reduced costs for medical liability insurance since Governor Barbour proposed and the Legislature enacted comprehensive tort reform in 2004. Base rates for MACM insureds were reduced by 5 percent for the 2006 calendar year and 10 percent for 2007. Additionally, MACM insureds also received a 15 percent refund of premiums paid for their 2005 policy and a 20 percent refund of the premiums paid in 2006.

Previous Comments

ID
114590
Comment

As much as I hate to agree with George Dale about anything, the high infant mortality rate probably has more to do with our statewide shortage of OB/GYNs and family medicine specialists--a direct result of high malpractice premiums and high lawsuit risk for that specialty--than the Medicaid cuts or anything else Barbour has done. I don't like tort reform as a rule, but if it puts a dent in the infant mortality rate, that'll help. Even universal health care won't impact the infant mortality rate if there aren't enough OB/GYNs and family medicine specialists to provide adequate coverage.

Author
Tom Head
Date
2007-09-12T15:34:37-06:00
ID
114591
Comment

tort reform was signed into law in 2004 and in 2005 the infant mortality rate increased dramatically. maybe the cuts in medicaid and 65k kids cut from the program don't have anything to do with it, maybe its just a coincidence.

Author
jd
Date
2007-09-12T15:57:15-06:00
ID
114592
Comment

If malpractice premiums decreased immediately and a new flock of OB/GYNs graduated from med school overnight, then it could have done some good by 2005. In the real world, it's going to take years--5 or 10, at least--for there to be enough new OB/GYNs to saturate the urban areas and expand to underserved rural areas. The 65,000 kids cut from Medicaid were presumably not pregnant, so I don't see how that would have as dramatic of an effect on infant mortality as the OB/GYN shortage would.

Author
Tom Head
Date
2007-09-12T16:02:27-06:00
ID
114593
Comment

For what it's worth, I used to blame the infant mortality rate on Medicaid cuts, too. So did the New York Times. Then I sat down with some actual physicians, they gave me hard data, and my views on the matter changed.

Author
Tom Head
Date
2007-09-12T16:03:43-06:00
ID
114594
Comment

Loved the fact this ad ran during the news pointing out health care costs were up 80% in Mississippi. I am biased as a trail lawyer (I have never done Med Mal) but the insurance companies got a cap on their damages, they can now just reap in profits. Everyone screws up, doctor, lawyer, Indian chief. That is why we have insurance. However, I still believe a small percentage of individuals cause a LARGE percentage of claims. I know lawyers that way and they should lose their license. I know a one surgeon, now past, who used to complain all the time about lawsuits. He also was sued more than once for operating intoxicated, and lost.... This, "it is the lawyer's fault", is, in my opinion, a ploy by insurance to let doctors fight lawyers, get judgments cut, but have no cap on premiums. As a note, lawyers have the second highest insurance malpractice rates, behind physicians, and we are closing fast. Yet we are all paying high rates, judgments are cut and who is making money? You wonder why the chamber of commerce puts in a million dollars on a single judicial race in Mississippi? AGamma627

Author
AGamm627
Date
2007-09-12T21:36:36-06:00
ID
114595
Comment

I couldn't agree with you more, Agamm. There are some bad doctors, some bad lawyers, some bad corporations, and so on. The tort-reformers, though, want to demonize the "trial lobby" so that bad doctors and corporations get away with too much, and individuals lose their right to sue and deter further problems. It's horrifying, as is the unintellectual demonization by people like Barbour. Be sure to read my "Hoodwinked" piece of a few years back if you haven't already about what the U.S. Chamber et al did to/in Mississippi, and how the media helped them.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-09-13T05:56:54-06:00
ID
114596
Comment

Tere are many other pieces of this problem. Infant mortality in MS was declining during the 70s and secondary to The University Medical Center's Nurse-Midwifery Program. This is a highly skilled profession and nurse-midwives were placed in some of the most rural and underserved places in MS. At the population growth of these highly trained professionals, some Physicians began to put pressure of the Legislature and on Dr. Wiser who was then the Head of the Dept. of Obstetricts and Gynecology. Dr. Helen Barnes headed up the Midwifery Program and she was used to get rid of the program. Barnes went to Washington at the directive of Wiser and the rest is history. It is interesting that Barbour used an African-American physician to boast of his benefits from tort reform in his commercial. This is very, very, very interesting. There are too many people getting screwed up by incompetent MDs and in most cases, the amount of money that a person can receive ($250,000) over a life span, will not take care of the individual who has been rendered handicapped. Of course accidents can happen but, good physicians do good work and these acts of inattention, failure to follow best practice, failure to report or communicate and blatant incompetency should not be spared or rewarded by TORT.

Author
justjess
Date
2007-09-13T10:01:57-06:00
ID
114597
Comment

Infant mortality in MS was declining during the 70s and secondary to The University Medical Center's Nurse-Midwifery Program. Factoid: I was brought into this world by a nurse-midwife. No, it doesn't add to the conversation, really. Just sharing. :-)

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-09-13T14:59:32-06:00
ID
114598
Comment

I'm unimpressed by the pdf file released in this report. Barbor is speaking of a specific industry in a specific state where this response quotes national figures and for some reason doesn't include data including 2007. In Mississippi, the largest physician insurer is MACM, which is an insurance agency owned by Mississippi doctors, it operates in a non profit type mode where its agenda is to remain solvent so it can insure the doctors in Mississippi. It generally charges the least amount compatible with solvency. This year it announced a 15% rate decrease, which Barbor attributes to tort reform, and I would highly encourage the JFP staff to contact MACM to find the background for the rate decrease in this state and how tort reform has enabled the rate decrease. What tort reform did was place limits in place on lawsuits so that insurance companies could make reasonable guesses as to what future losses would be. We have limits on everything else in this country, and while lawsuit limits are inconvenient to trial attorneys and plaintiffs, these limits allow a functional system of insurance in this state. Furthermore, actual damages were not limited at all by the reforms, but only the punitive damages.

Author
GLewis
Date
2007-09-14T09:42:31-06:00
ID
114599
Comment

Sid Salter (actually) challenged Haley Barbour's tort-reform claims on his blog. Then the Barbour folks responded to him. (Not sure whether the last graf there is Salter or Barbour; unclear.)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-09-14T15:47:44-06:00

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