Hahahahahahaha

I’m sorry, but I can’t help but laugh at this.

Despite promises that rising medical malpractice insurance rates would be suppressed under new state laws, many of Georgia’s insurers have hiked their premiums since the sweeping reforms took effect last year, according to an Associated Press analysis of state insurance records.

Six of the state’s top insurers of doctors and dentists have increased their liability rates – in some cases, by more than a third – since new restrictions on malpractice cases became law in Feburary 2005, according to state Department of Insurance records obtained by the AP through an open records request.

The reforms passed by the Georgia Legislature last year included a $350,000 limit on jury awards for malpractice victims’ pain and suffering, tougher standards for expert witnesses in malpractice trials, and new incentives for patients to settle out of court.

I’m a big believer in tort reform and caps, but it seems to me that the process was a failure from the start last time when they did not get all the players (read: insurers) to the table.

27 comments

  1. JRM2016 says:

    The insurance companies can no longer blame this on the lawyers. Georgia is now among the toughest states in terms of accessing courts for medical malpractice suits. Georgia, on top of having the caps in place that have been discussed ad nauseam, requires that an affidavit from a doctor describing the complained of activity by another doctor as malpractice before a complaint may be filed. Practicing law in Alabama and Georgia, I can tell you the access to the legal system for people actually hurt by medical malpractice is vastly different, but insurance in both states keeps going higher.

  2. northside elephant says:

    Just b/c the AP criticized tort reform (whats new) and says that premiums have gone up it does not mean that reform was a failure.

    There are many, many factors that affect the premiums.

    Additionally I would argue that if premiums are high now, imagine how much higher they would be if we had not reformed one of the most plaintiff friendly tort systems in the country.

  3. Greg Greene says:

    As someone who opposed this from the start — and gave endless servings of crap to a liberal friend of mine who had the dubious vocation of lobbyist for the GMA — I called this from the very beginning. I’m having a very hard time fighting the temptation to go to the nearest doctor and say, “I told you so.”

    Georgia doctors got pwn3d by their own association — and it could have been predicted all along.

  4. GAWire says:

    Greg, when you say the GMA, do you actually mean MAG – the Medical Association of Georgia? Just want to make sure we are talking about the same thing.

    Also, this legislation was not a failure by any means … this was a huge success and very important stepping stone in what will be a long process of really acheiving liability reform.

    This legislation – SB 3 – was never meant to solve all of the problems with liability insurance premiums. It was, however, designed to reduce the amount of frivolous claims and lawsuits that our trial lawyer “friends” profit off of, thus giving the opportunity for payers, i.e. insurance companies, to reduce premiums.

    The soul of the problem here is not with the doctors, though. The problem is that in our current managed care system (thanks a lot, Hillary), the payers have way too much leverage. Prices are negotiated by insurance cos strongarming doctors, and patients, employers, and providers are worse off for it in the long run.

    As for MAG, they have a heavy influence of insurance companies over there … a little too much. Until doctors and patients remove themselves from dependence on the insurance companies, they will always have this leverage, which is making our healthcare system worse and worse.

    SB 3 was a major stepping stone, but again, it will not solve all of the problems with liability reform. Many doctors expected this to be the magic key towards reducing the burden of insurance premiums – that was never meant to be the case. This legislation was meant to address the problem that were giving payers the reasoning for increasing premiums. Now, they are just making the increases simply b/c they can and it will make them more money, and doctors can’t do anything about it b/c they, with the patients are dependent upon them.

    That is a horrible system, and until we move to a system that is Consumer-Driven, i.e. Consumer-Driven or Consumer-Directed Healthcare, we will never adequately address this problem.

    And, Bill, I know you’re not one to pass up the chance to bash Tom Price, but blaming him isn’t the solution here. First, even though he pushed for this while in State Senate, he wasn’t even there when this passed. Further, he and the other physician MoC’s from GA are not to blame for this … again, MAG and doctors thought this was going to solve all of their problems, but they often fail to realize that they must take action themselves, in order for there to be a system wide change.

  5. Northside Elephant, that is like saying Iraq is bad now but imagine how much worse it would be if we hadn’t gone there. It is impossible to answer that question and it’s a dodge.

    At the time tort reform passed, MAG said something like premiums will go down X over a period of 5 years. If you divided X by the number of doctors in the state, it came out to less than $2,000/year. So their best high estimate promise to doctors was $2K a year.

    Something tells me a doctor who wanted tort reform because he was paying close to $100,000/year in malpractice insurance wasn’t doing it for a mere 2% savings. The other thing I believe not enough doctors factor into this decision is this: is it worth $2K/year of savings for one of their loved ones (or themselves) not to be able to seek justice in the event that malpractice is performed on them?

  6. Bill Simon says:

    Wire,

    I realize Price wasn’t in the Legislature for the actual passing of the bill. BUT, he has been one of the primary movers of it and all his claims are bullshit.

    The fact that you “agree” with the reform means that you live a perfect life and are in perfect health and can pay for perfect doctors.

    The other 99% of the population has to deal with the actual risks of going to a doctor and possibly encountering a doctor who might have an incident of a negligent act.

    The “access” to the courts is now severely limited by this legislation, and screw you and others who support this legislation who don’t think so. Just continue through life with your head up your own ass on this and many other issues to which YOU claim a higher authority to know all about.

  7. GAWire how does one profit on a “frivolous” lawsuit.

    friv·o·lous (frĭv’ə-ləs) pronunciation
    adj.

    1. Unworthy of serious attention; trivial: a frivolous novel.
    2. Inappropriately silly: a frivolous purchase.

    If your case is thrown out, you don’t make any money. I know Republicans don’t trust the court system, but if a judge and jury rule that a case has merits, I’m comfortable agreeing with them. And if too many doctors and insurance companies are settling, well then maybe that says doctors and insurance companies should do more to clean up their own collective act.

    My favorite tort reform statistic comes from a study that Massachussets did. They found that 1% of doctors were responsible for close to 70% of malpractice claims and that 10% of doctors were responsible for 99% of them. Why doctors put up with an insurance system that allows doctors repeatedly found liable to continue practicing which has the consequence of spreading out the risk equally even though there is not equal risk is beyond me.

    There is a reason car insurance is expensive when you are 15 and 70 years old and not when you are 35. I’d be able to take the whining of doctors on this issue a lot more seriously if they’d be willing to take on insurance companies the same way the trial lawyers they hate are.

  8. GAWire says:

    Crhis, you don’t understand what I mean by frivolous lawsuits – actually it isn’t what I mean … it is what the government has categorized as frivolous lawsuits. What this means is people suing doctors for frivolous causes – they are suing for something based on a lie. They aren’t really hurt – they are faking it – they are lying about their condition, and ambulance chasers try to milk doctors out of millions of dollars for s/t that wasn’t their fault.

    Granted, doctors do make mistakes and that is why there must be a torts process, but the far majority of these are found to be untrue, and they are settled out of court with doctors and insurers paying millions of dollars so they do not have to go through a trial.

    You can compare it the Macdonalds thing … this isn’t a case for doctors, but it’s like the person suing Ronald Mcdonald b/c the coffee was too hot.

    Same thing in medical liability … a patient goes to the ER and says his bed pan wasn’t changed often enough and that caused him life long mental stress and health damages, which can only be covered by a $100mm settlement, b/c that’s the only thing that can solve the issue of him having to hold his pee pee for a while. So, an ambulance chasing graduate of Bozo Night Law School, who is also a charter member of the national trial lawyers association and big supporter of John Edwards, comes along and says, let me represent you on this case, b/c not only did having to wait on a bed pan cause great mental stress, but it also caused family problems, and I think we can go ahead and ask for $200mm, and we are confident that the hospital will settle out of court, in which case you will probably get $50mm (which is $50mm more than the chump had b/f he went to the ER) b/c they do not want to go through a trial. Also, don’t worry about having to stand by these claims. While we’re at it, we’ll get a psycho evaluation from a local graduate of St. Thomas Medical School of Questionable Psychology and they can back up your mental debilitation.

    THAT is what frivolous lawsuits refers to … not a dictionary definition.

  9. GAWire your comment makes no sense.

    First of all, MAG which represents most of Georgia’s doctors has had a policy in place for a long time where they DO NOT SETTLE. So every one of their cases goes to trial and gets a jury verdict. Some doctors have argued that this is a bad policy to have (if they are guilty it is generally in their interest to settle) but this just doesn’t happen.

    If you owned a corporation would you give someone $50 million if you didn’t think you were liable? That’s just not how I operate (or anyone else I know). Settlements are an admission of guilt, so I don’t know why we should feel so sorry for a bunch of people who admitted their liability.

    If there is one problem with the way the process works then I think it might be the process by which one person might get a large settlement while the same thing that happened to a lot of others and they weren’t able to get justice. But I hardly think anyone on here wants class action to come to medical malpractice.

    I’d like to bring up your McDonalds story. I know dittoheads love to focus on this story as one of the terrible things in American legal history. Here is what actually happened: Someone was burned by scalding hot coffee that was being served well above the temperature that coffee should be served at. During the discovery phase of the trial, the court and jury learned that McDonalds had ignored repeated complaints about this exact problem. Did one person get “lucky” and get a big verdict out of this happening to them? Yes. But the court system can bring relief for a larger problem that other government agencies are ignoring.

    How much do you want to bet that after paying that one settlement, McDonalds made sure their coffee was being served at a non dangerous temperature in all of its stores, which in turn protected American consumers from untold millions of dollars of burn treatments and headaches, not to mention protecting the McDonalds corporation from future legal troubles.

    I apologize but I just refuse to believe American business, with all the power it has within our government, is being brought to its knees by frivolous lawsuits that have no merit. If you think that’s the case then you must live in a different world than me.

  10. northside elephant says:

    Chrisis you are way off with some of your facts. MAG Mutual is an insurer. MAG and AMG are NOT insurers and there is a big diference.

    And Iraq? What are you talking about? See if you can follow this logic:

    The average malpractice payout per doctor in states with caps has gone up 24%

    But in states without caps it’s gone up 54%! So caps appear to have had some effect on keeping payouts down. (since 1992 controlling for inflation)

  11. northside elephant says:

    SB 3 is not a cure-all, we never said it was, MAG never said it was.

    It is one step toward comprehensive reform.

  12. GAWire says:

    Chris, I will certainly concede that I don’t know many details about the Mickey-D’s case … that was just a more-or-less unrelated example, although I still believe it was not a legitimate case, based on what I do know.

    As for liability reform, you assume too much … you assume that business is not struggling from this burden – you assume that providers are not struggling – you assume there are not many of these frivolous cases. All of these things are wrong assumptions, and we all know what assumptions make us look like.

    These cases settle out of court EVERY SINGLE DAY a thousand times over. These frivolous suits are driving doctors out of practice in droves. These frivolous lawsuits are costing more for providers, but more importantly, they are costing YOU more in that the more payers drive up costs for providers, the more costs are driven up for the healthcare services themselves, which costs you money as a patient and employers have to pay much more in coverage costs, which again translates into you paying more b/c those costs are taken out of your paycheck in benefits.

    So, you see, you and your boy John Edwards are advocates of higher healthcare costs and a steady decline in quality healthcare services.

  13. Mrs. Adam Kornstein says:

    GAWire,
    Yes of course that’s what former Sen, Edwards would want for his wife who is suffering from CANCER. Naturally he’d want poor quality health care at higher prices.. It’s so simple for you isn’t it.

  14. Hey GAWire, here is a fact sheet about the McDonald’s case. It’s actually the first thing that comes up on google when you search for mcdonald’s coffee.

    http://www.lectlaw.com/files/cur78.htm

    In it you will see that the women initially asked only for McDonald’s to pay for her medical costs, which were about $20,000. When McDonald’s said no, she had no recourse available but to sue the company. During the discovery period of the case, the court learned that McDonald’s was knowingly serving it’s coffee too high. The court awarded her $160,000 damages plus around $2 million for pain and suffering.

    By the way, that amount equalled about what McDonalds made selling coffee in only 2 days. Seems pretty fair to me, except in reality the two parties entered into a settlement (certainly for less money) of which we don’t know the amount.

    Since practically every opponent of the civil justice system puts out the McDonald’s case front and center as a reason why the system needs reform, excuse me if I have a hard time believing that they have a well formed reasoned argument. It’s so easy to Google and get the facts on this one case, yet it’s easier to either not know or pretend you don’t because it makes a pretty good straw man for the ill informed.

    Now onto something I really care about — who can I sue to get fix the Atlanta Braves?

  15. GAWire says:

    Mrs. K … I know Edwards’ wife is suffering from cancer and I hate that; nevertheless, he made millions, literally millions and millions of dollars off of cases like this as a trial lawyer and representing the nation’s largest ambulance chaser organization, which had direct impact on the declining quality of healthcare in this nation.

    I don’t wish any harm or sickness on anyone (with exception of terrorists), espcially Mrs. Edwards, but John Edwards can never blame lack of quality care for anything that might happen to his wife. Further, he is not completely removed from part of the reason why healthcare in this country has declined.

    It’s interesting you bring up women’s care, though, b/c this issue has a DIRECT IMPACT on the care women get. OB/GYNs are being hit by malpractice premiums the hardest. In many parts of the country, especially in rural areas, many OB/GYNs are leaving practice, making it to where there are no doctors for women in those areas. This has a huge effect on the healthcare system, and leaves thousands of women without vital medical care, or requiring them to travel long distances for that care. Since this trend came along in the last decade, we have seen a steady decline in prenatal and parenatal care, along with a decline in health of young children in many of these areas.

    I know it hits home for John Edwards, but it hits home for all of us.

    It’s not simple, Mrs K, it’s very complicated in fact, and John Edwards is part of the equation that has made it more complicated.

  16. Senator Eric Johnson says:

    MAG Mutual has 75%+ of market. They have frozen premiums for 2 years (after 30-50% annual increases before tort reform) and are committed to rolling back premiums once if/when caps are confirmed by courts. The little guys who raised premiums came into Georgia with below market rates to try and undercut MAGM. They have now been forced to raise rates to “real” level. More insurers are coming in. Rates will drop. Tort reform is a success so far. Ask doctors and hospitals, not the media.

  17. GAWire says:

    Give me a break, Bill … you call yourself a libertarian, correct, which I assume means you support less restrictions on business? And you are advocating for something that is costing businesses billions and driving thousands of employers out of business entirely?

    You are just trying to find whatever you can to bash Tom Price. You don’t even have a political basis … you just want to criticize people you don’t like.

  18. Bill Simon says:

    Libertarian? Nope. Republican.

    Wire, you, on the other hand, are just a pussy who hides behind a pseudonym. Who the hell are you to criticize me?

  19. GAWire says:

    Sorry, Bill, I thought you identified more with libertarians. But that even proves my point further … if you consider yourself Republican or conservative, then you should know the benefit of liabillity reform. If you are against liability reform, then you either don’t understand its value for both small businesses and healthcare consumers, or you aren’t really fiscally conservative.

    And, Bill, I’m not criticizing you, but you can hardly deny that you will do anything to criticize your opponents, even if that apparently means criticizing good policy.

    Finally, you can call me names all you want, but I just assume that if that is your defense, then my point has been made and you can’t really refute it.

  20. Bill Simon says:

    Liability reform? That’s what you called limiting the responsibility of people/entities who engage in negligent acts? Right, Wire…there’s no need to refute you…you refure yourself by sounding like an idiot.

  21. GAWire says:

    So you think that allowing ambulance chasing attorneys weed millions of dollars in frivolous lawsuits from those that are there to provide care is legitimate?

    Bill, no one is denying that there are doctors out there who engage in negligent acts, but that’s where the existing tort laws come into play. The torts are there to make sure those negligent provdiders pay for their mistakes.

    However, the current tort system is designed in such a way where all providers, including the far majority of them who are not negligent, suffer from the mistakes of a few. This is not fair to them, nor is it beneficial to our healthcare system in general, which has direct affects on all of us … even you, Bill.

    And, again … I know you can’t argue with anything meaningful when you start calling names. Thanks for the confirmation. You’ve earned your reputation well, Bill.

  22. DBR says:

    The only REAL conclusion anyone can come to based on Georgia’s current medical liability premiums is that it’s too soon to come to any conclusion….

    It takes from 3 to 5 years for a filed malpratice case to reach settlement or a courtroom. This isn’t anecdotal or speculative – it’s fact. And everyone, from trial lawyers to doctors, knows it.

    Cases which will be affected by Georgia’s new law won’t be settled, decided or paid out for at LEAST two to three more years.

    Cases which are currently adjudicated in Georgia courts were filed several years ago, and as such, are NOT AFFECTED BY THE NEW LAWS. Premiums are based on potential payouts and defense costs for cases which are being adjudicated NOW. If payouts and defense costs fall as a result of limits, THEN companies will be able to reduce premiums.

    That’s assuming, of course, that there isn’t a constitutional challenge to the new laws, which will make it take even LONGER for premiums to fall. Texas did it right in 2003, passing both legislation AND a constitutional amendmentment, and has seen some companies lower premiums 22% since then…

    For ANYONE, doctor or lawyer or legislator, to claim that Georgia’s new malpractice measures have failed because rates haven’t been reduced within a year of their passage is indicative of either unbelievable ignorance or deliberate dishonesty

  23. DBR says:

    The only REAL conclusion anyone can come to based on Georgia’s current medical liability premiums is that it’s too soon to come to any conclusion….

    It takes from 3 to 5 years for a filed malpratice case to reach settlement or a courtroom. This isn’t anecdotal or speculative – it’s fact. And everyone, from trial lawyers to doctors, knows it.

    Cases which will be affected by Georgia’s new law won’t be settled, decided or paid out for at LEAST two to three more years.

    Cases which are currently adjudicated in Georgia courts were filed several years ago, and as such, are NOT AFFECTED by the new law. Premiums are based on potential payouts and defense costs for cases which are being adjudicated NOW. When payouts and defense costs drop, so will premiums – but not before then.

    And that’s assuming, of course, that there isn’t a constitutional challenge to the new laws, which will make it take even LONGER for premiums to fall. Texas did it right in 2003, passing both legislation AND a constitutional amendmentment, and has seen some companies lower premiums 22% since then…

    For ANYONE, doctor or lawyer, to suggest that Georgia’s new malpractice measures have failed because rates haven’t dropped is indicative either of unbelievable ignorance or deliberate dishonesty

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