One of the greatest expansions of government kicked into high gear this month as much of Obamacare took effect, raising healthcare premiums for millions of Americans and by kicking many of them off their coveted health insurance plans. All of this forces us to pay more to subsidize healthcare for others.
Call it another Obama Administration effort to redistribute wealth.
But Georgia doesn’t have to sit back and take it. Rising health insurance premiums, co-pays and deductibles don’t have to wreck the family budget. Instead, Georgia lawmakers are considering legislation that would actually reduce healthcare costs.
It’s something they should jump on immediately.
The Georgia Senate is reviewing SB 141 this year known as the Patients’ Compensation Act. It would eliminate the practice of defensive medicine or when doctors order more tests and procedures than are medically necessary.
We’ve all experienced it. We go to the doctor with a sprain from a sports injury and instead of ordering bed rest and an ice pack, the doctor orders an MRI or other expensive tests. He does it just to make sure a patient won’t sue.
SB 141 would eliminate the need for defensive medicine because doctors and hospitals would never be sued again. It would totally eliminate our state’s malpractice system which has made trial lawyers rich. The trial bar, as you know, was one of the biggest financial supporters of Barack Obama. And we wonder why tort reform was never addressed in Obamacare?
Instead, Georgia patients who have harmed by a doctor would now take their claims to a panel of healthcare experts. If they found medical injury had occurred, patients would be awarded compensation – no matter how small their injury
As fiscal conservatives, we demand that for themselves. This bill does just that. Patients who have harmed would be compensated with dollars generated by physicians’ malpractice premiums. The premiums would no longer pay for expensive litigation costs. Instead they would pay for their original intent: compensating harmed patients.
A healthcare economics firm estimates the Patients’ Compensation Act would save Georgia up to $14 billion annually (Or over $120 per month for each Georgian) in private and public healthcare costs. That’s an astounding number and would certainly lower our health insurance premiums, co-pays and deductibles.
We hear all the time that injured Georgians have a right to their day in court. The problem is, most can’t afford litigation and expensive attorneys. Trial lawyers rarely take cases unless a case results in huge payoffs. Elderly patients and children who have been hurt have a tough time finding an attorney to take their case. The wealthy can easily get lawyers to represent them.
This idea gives all citizens equal access to justice. The only ones it hurts are the trial bar and medical malpractice insurance companies who earn huge profits off the doctors they insure — including MAG Mutual here in Georgia.
Georgia has not been a pioneer in fiscal reform in recent years. The state Legislature has done little to cut costs or reduce taxes for its citizens. It can be a bold leader, however, by taking on the effects of Obamacare. It can consider the Patient’s Compensation Act as a route to reducing healthcare costs and improving justice for all.
The Georgia Trial Lawyers Association has tried to assert this bill violates the 7th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that grants the right to trial by jury in civil cases. I am not an attorney, but even I know the 7th Amendment only applies to certain cases in U.S. Court or federal court not state courts. In fact, in the framing of our U.S. Constitution, the federalists who advocated for a de-centralized government strongly opposed adding the right to trial by jury in civil trials because they believed Congress or states should make that decision.
The Workman’s Comp system, which is similar to the system this bill sets up, has been upheld as Constitutional. Both systems have administrative law judges. There are rulings by the Georgia Supreme Court in 1848 (Flint River Steamboat Co. vs. Foster, 5 Ga. 194) and in 1921 (Crowell v. akin, 108 S.E. 791) that sets precedent that has been used to uphold relevant law as this bill. The “Foster-Crowell-Huhn rule” precedent has been frequently referred to by the Georgia Supreme Court in their rulings.
The state has already removed the right to sue for the list below:
1) Alienation of affection
2) Imminent Domain
3) Physician working for State
4) Physician working for Armed services
5) Physicians providing services at Charity Clinic
6) Physician providing “Good Samaritan” work in emergency
7) Physician working for Federal Government
8) Employers for being injured on job
Georgia trial lawyers are pulling out all the stops to defeat this bill. They don’t want to see reforms that hurt their pocketbook. Call your legislator and ask them to support this bill.
Debbie Dooley serves on the Tea Party Patriots Board of Directors and was a co-founder of the Atlanta Tea Party.