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Broad Health Coalition Continues to Press for Medical Liability Reform
Date:1/14/2010

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the House and Senate work to merge their health care reform bills, the Health Coalition on Liability and Access (HCLA) sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, emphasizing the need to retain and strengthen current medical liability reform provisions in any final legislation.

"Although the current political climate has prevented comprehensive medical liability reform efforts from passing, we want Congress to know that the issue is still very much alive and that the HCLA is continuing its work on this important issue for patients," said HCLA Chair Mike Stinson.

While the HCLA continues to favor comprehensive medical liability reforms, including reasonable limits on non-economic damages, the broad health coalition is urging Congress to incorporate in their final legislation provisions on demonstration projects and standards of care, as well as a guarantee that current and future state liability reforms are not nullified by any new federal health care legislation.

The HCLA believes that the language in the House bill regarding demonstration projects should be used as a starting point for this provision in the final bill, supporting incentive payments to encourage states to enact reforms to make the system work for both health care providers and patients.   The HCLA also opposes an overly broad "opt-out" provision which would undermine the effectiveness of new state reforms.

There are also concerns that new practice guidelines and standards in the health care bills, while designed to improve the quality of health care services, would unintentionally expand liability for health care providers. The HCLA proposes that the House-adopted language clarifying that these provisions do not create new legal standards of care be retained and applied to the entire bill.

Finally, while both the House and Senate health care reform bills contain a provision that intends to protect current and future state-enacted liability reforms, the HCLA would like to strengthen this language and urges House and Senate leaders to include it in their final bill.

"The final legislation must, at a minimum, address the three issues the HCLA has cited in order to ensure that the newly enacted federal health care reforms do not expand health care provider liability and do not roll back, limit or impinge upon existing or future state liability reform efforts," the letter states.

To read the full text of the letter to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid, visit www.hcla.org.

For more details, visit www.hcla.org. The Health Coalition on Liability and Access is a national advocacy coalition representing doctors, hospitals, health care liability insurers, employers, health care consumers, and others. HCLA believes federal legislation is needed to bring fairness, timeliness and cost-efficiency to America's medical liability system.

SOURCE Health Coalition on Liability and Access

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SOURCE Health Coalition on Liability and Access
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