Burgess Reintroduces Legislation to End Unnecessary Health Care Lawsuits

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Washington, March 3, 2011 | Whitney Thompson (202-225-7772) | comments
Today, Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (TX-26) reintroduced the Medical Justice Act, which would improve patient access to doctors by putting an end to unnecessary lawsuits brought about by trial lawyers. “Physicians are forced to trim their budgets in order to cover their insurance costs, often resulting in laying off staff, limiting access to certain aspects of their practice, or closing their practice all together,” said Dr. Burgess. “We need national, across-the-board change in the tort reform system, and my bill would do just that. Runaway lawsuits are unnecessary and costly, and reforming medical liability must be a part of the national health care debate.”
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Burgess Reintroduces Legislation to End Unnecessary Health Care Lawsuits

Runaway lawsuits are unnecessary and costly, and reforming medical liability must be a part of the national health care debate.

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (TX-26) reintroduced the Medical Justice Act, which would improve patient access to doctors by putting an end to unnecessary lawsuits brought about by trial lawyers. 

“Physicians are forced to trim their budgets in order to cover their insurance costs, often resulting in laying off staff, limiting access to certain aspects of their practice, or closing their practice all together,” said Dr. Burgess. “We need national, across-the-board change in the tort reform system, and my bill would do just that. Runaway lawsuits are unnecessary and costly, and reforming medical liability must be a part of the national health care debate.”

The Medical Justice Act would regulate civil actions for an injury or death resulting from health care by, among other things, limiting the non-economic damages that an individual could recover. Medical litigation and soaring malpractice insurance premiums contribute significantly to the rising cost of health care. Physicians are forced to practice defensive medicine in fear of being second-guessed by trial lawyers, which results in millions of dollars in unnecessary tests, procedures, and imaging. Furthermore, seasoned medical professionals are retiring early because staying in practice is no longer financially feasible, further contributing to our nation's doctor shortage.

“Texas has led the nation in medical justice reform, and is now a model state for what successful tort reform looks like,” Dr. Burgess said. “Unfortunately, only a few states have followed suit, leaving too many Americans trapped in a system that is harmful to patients and doctors.”

Dr. Burgess’ legislation mirrors the commonsense reform Texas put in place in 2003, when the state passed legislation to address sky-rocketing medical lawsuits and a declining pool of medical professionals. The results are documented reduction in liability insurance rates, reported growth in the number of doctors licensed each year, and increased charity care, among others.

“All Americans deserve to enjoy the benefits Texas has seen thanks to the eradication of our epidemic of health care lawsuit abuse,” said Texas Medical Association President Susan R. Bailey, MD. “Since our new law took effect, Texas has licensed 21,000 new physicians, including a record 3,621 in fiscal year 2008,” Dr. Bailey said. “This has been good medicine for the people of Texas, and Dr. Burgess’ plan would apply this life-saving treatment to the rest of the country.”

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