Newly created Health Policy Board expected to take up medical malpractice reform
October 6, 2009 -- Tort reform’s on the mind of Oregon physicians and legislators, many of whom believe it’s essential to achieving health reform.
This issue will definitely come before the newly appointed Health Policy Board, according to Dr. Charles Hofmann who’s adamant about having a medical liability task force.
“All I need are five votes from the policy board,” said Hofmann, who also served on the Health Fund Board, which encouraged the legislature to reform the medical liability system, but was unsuccessful. “We need to deal with the costs of defensive medicine. The solution deals with our trial attorney brethren.”
The Health Policy Board holds its first all-day meeting in Portland on Nov. 10.
Legislators were told that tort reform was a “non-starter,” said Sen. Jeff Kruse who spoke at the recent Oregon Medical Association meeting. “It was very disappointing. I’m glad to hear that folks are willing to take up that issue. We need to get a groundswell of support, and should be fully prepared to do so in 2011.”
Sen. Alan Bates shared his sentiment. Acknowledging that malpractice premiums had gone down, he called that a temporary fix because premiums will go up again in a few years.
Last session, he said, “tort reform was the elephant in the room. We need the political will for tort reform, but it won’t be easy. I hope we can come up with something meaningful, and get it to a governor who’ll sign it.”
Starting May 1, all physicians insured with CNA Insurance saw their premiums drop by 2.5 percent. Together, those 2,375 physicians will share more than $1.6 million this year in the joint OMA/CNA Physician Protection Program. In 2008 the physician protection program returned $121,123 to physicians.
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