Florida’s legislature seeks to make all emergency medical personnel “agents of the state” and therefore immune from liability. Reckless mistakes would be paid by the state and payouts capped at $200,000. Trial lawyers are vigorously fighting the proposed legislation, arranging press conferences with patients and families who have been maimed by emergency department malpractice. The bills include a cap on attorney fees for lawsuits on behalf of the state Attorney General’s Office; protections for businesses against so-called slip-and-fall claims; and the ability for parents to waive liability, but not negligence, for children participating in dangerous activities.
In other news, the Florida Justice Association is going to open up its own emergency departments, businesses with potentially slippery floors, and forums for dangerous children’s activities to show all the other Florida citizens how to behave in a non-negligent manner in the future.
Unintended effects of the health care bill … companies are already telling their employees to “expect changes for the worse to your health care benefits.” Taxing prescription drug benefits will likely cause some companies to drop prescription drug coverage for their employees. Some companies may drop retiree coverage altogether. Others may raise costs for their health plans or decrease health plan coverage. Hmmmm. Decrease benefits or increase payments. Wonder where I’ve heard that before. Including the tax burden on long term retiree health benefits may have a significant negative effect on the earnings of many large corporations which may result in less tax revenue.
But at least everyone has insurance now. That’s a good thing.
Too little too late. Health care bill imposes requirements on states, but doesn’t provide states with needed subsidies until 2014. Arizona hospitals will have difficulty overcoming budget deficits until those subsidies materialize. Results: Less money for training physicians in Arizona, less doctors staying in Arizona, less care provided to poor people (including 310,000 adults and 39,000 children who will be dropped from Arizona’s Medicaid program), increases in emergency department usage, longer emergency department waits, and higher insurance rates for those with private insurance. “Costs have to be shifted somewhere, and that will be to private insurance.”
Arizona is also considering whether to increase taxes. When considering whether voters would approve of an increased tax rate, one hospital executives is quoted as saying “ultimately voters must decide whether they value things such as health care and education … we can’t cut our way out of this.”
Hmmm … provide less services or increase taxes. Sounds familiar.
Here’s some more reform for ya’ … Wyoming governor considers pulling whole STATE out of Medicaid program due to the onerous restrictions imposed by the health care bill. What would the 15% of all Wyoming residents who are Medicaid eligible do for health care then?
Doesn’t matter. At least everyone has health care insurance under this new health care bill.
Oh – and what about pregnant illegal immigrants? They aren’t eligible for insurance under the new health care bill. Nebraska was previously treating the unborn child as an individual eligible for services under Medicaid. Medicaid called it a violation of their rules. Now the illegal immigrant women may not be able to find prenatal care, which the government admits causes three times the incidence of low birth weight (meaning longer hospital stays) and five times the incidence of death. So who delivers the babies and is still on the hook for multiple millions of dollars in liability if something goes wrong with a child who has had no prenatal care? Sure as heck isn’t Washington.
Oh well. At least everyone else has insurance under this new health care bill.
John McCain blasts Obama … “You can put lipstick on a pig, Mr. President, but this [legislation]is still a pig.” Not one of the 2,733 pages of the health reform bill has anything to do with medical malpractice reform. “The dirty little secret in this body is that trial lawyers control the agenda, certainly as far as this legislation is concerned.”
Imagine that every one of your motor vehicle violations was recorded in a national databank. You get a speeding ticket? You’re reported. You get a parking ticket, you get reported. Don’t wear your seat belt? Add another report. Minor fender bender? You’re on there. Someone who doesn’t like you calls in a complaint about you? Maybe, maybe not. Then imagine that before someone could sell you a car, before someone could sell you insurance for that car, or before you could apply for a renewal of your driver’s license, they had to look you up on the databank. Too many reports and no one wants to sell you a car. Even a couple of reports and some companies may not sell you insurance. Obviously, you’d want to do whatever you could to stay off the databank – kind of like requesting “court supervision” and paying a larger fine for a speeding ticket so that the speeding ticket doesn’t get reported to the state and so that your insurance rates don’t get jacked up.
Medical providers already have such a system. It’s called the National Practitioner Data Bank. Malpractice payments (even those paid to just make frivolous lawsuits go away), adverse licensing actions, formal reprimands, and adverse actions on clinical privileges all get reported. Hospitals, insurers, and select other agencies have access to the databank and must query the databank regularly as part of their due diligence. Now add health care staffing firms to the list of entities who have access to the databank information. Good thing or bad?
Chronically ill patients benefit from online social networks. Quadriplegic man shares tips on which places have best wheelchair access. Multiple sclerosis patient says that being able to connect with other people “literally saved my life.”
In other news, a little known provision in the current health care bill states that in 2014, Medicare and Medicaid will only pay for access to online social networking as complete treatment coverage for all chronically ill patients. Beginning in 2016, Medicare and Medicaid will require a $50 co-pay each time patients log in to social networking services to discuss their problems. The scary thing is that I’m actually wondering whether I should even make this tongue-in-cheek comment to avoid giving insurers ideas.
Who uses the emergency department the most? Might not be who you think.
Those most likely to be “frequent fliers” (4 or more visits to the ED in a year) are African Americans and women, are either 25-44 years old or older than 65, and are likely to be on public insurance. Only 2% of frequent fliers were uninsured and only 15% of frequent emergency department users were uninsured. Sixty percent of “frequent fliers” in the emergency department had either Medicare or Medicaid for insurance. Frequent fliers represented 4.5% to 8% of all emergency department patients, but accounted for 21% to 28% of total yearly emergency department visits.
Bulgarians ask “what’s a plaintiff attorney?” Only 0.3% of alleged malpractice victims in Bulgaria seek compensation in court.
Pennsylvania hospital sued for calling itself a trauma center when it couldn’t provide complete trauma care to a patient then running out of blood. The patient was in a motorcycle accident and necessitated transfer due to a pelvic fracture with vascular injuries. During a delay in transport, he received received multiple transfusions of O-negative, O-positive and AB-positive blood. The patient died before the helicopter arrived to transport him to another facility.
$49 million judgment for patient whose spinal cord tumor initially went undiagnosed for one year. Six years and three surgeries later, the tumor was completely removed, but the patient was left with only partial use of her legs. The judgment may be reduced on appeal – to only in the $10 million dollar range.
In other news, the defendants are considering contribution actions against the tumor … that ate the patient’s spinal cord.