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Access to Health Care (Health Care Reform)

Tort Reform

The WSMA supports tort reform to include, but not limited to, certificate of merit, alternative dispute resolution systems, several liability for non-economic damages, reform of the contingent fee system, and elimination of double recoveries while preserving subrogation rights. (BT Rpt J, A-01; EC Rpt F, A-02) (Reaffirmed A-17)

The WSMA seeks changes in the tort law system, at the state and federal levels, that: 1) moderate the rising cost of medical malpractice insurance premiums; 2) accelerate settlements to the injured party in the event of negligence; 3) reduce wasteful tort system transactional expenses so that more of the settlement goes to the injured party; 4) increase the focus of the tort law system on fairly compensating victims of negligence; and, 5) reduce the dramatic rise in awards for non-economic damages. (Res C-16, A-02; EC Rpt E, A-03) (Reaffirmed A-17)

The WSMA supports, as a part of tort reform, equitable funding of patient safety/medical error reduction programs in hospitals and other medical settings (such as an allocation of 1% of health care licensing fees and medical malpractice settlements and judgments to the Department of Health), and strengthening of physician and hospital quality assurance programs. (EC Rpt E, A-03) (Reaffirmed A-17)

The WSMA will work with other groups and organizations to seek these changes by means of legislation, regulation and/or initiative and constitutional amendments. (Res C-16, A-02; EC Rpt E, A-03) (Reaffirmed A-17)

The WSMA will work with all specialties, particularly those most urgently affected, to advance the need for immediate reform of the tort system. (EC Rpt E, A-03) (Reaffirmed A-17)

The WSMA supports any and all legal efforts by physicians to exercise their constitutional rights to petition government for statutory changes to reform the tort system. (EC Rpt E, A-03) (Reaffirmed A-17)

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Abbreviations for House of Delegates report origination:

EC – Executive Committee; BT – Board of Trustees; CPA – Council on Professional Affairs; JC – Judicial Council; CHS – Community and Health Services

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