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MEDICAL LIABILITY REFORM EMERGING AS PUBLIC CONCERN

 MEDICAL LIABILITY REFORM EMERGING AS PUBLIC CONCERN
 LANSING, Mich., Nov. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- A new survey released today


substantiated Michigan residents' strong concern that the cost of medical liability insurance is driving up the cost of health care and making it more difficult for them to get access to health care.
 In a survey of 800 Michigan residents, conducted by Public Sector Consultants, 93 percent of the public agreed that medical liability insurance is "dramatically increasing Michigan's health care costs." Of that group, two-thirds of those polled "strongly agreed" with the statement.
 In the area of access, 82 percent of those surveyed agreed -- 57 percent strongly -- that the increasing cost of liability insurance is making it harder for people to get access to health care in Michigan. Forty-five percent of the respondents said this issue is directly affecting them or a member of their family.
 Caps, or limits, on liability awards were favored by 56 percent of those surveyed as a way to hold down the cost of medical liability insurance.
 "This is the second time that a public opinion survey of Michigan residents has demonstrated the public's strong concern that accessible, affordable health care is being jeopardized by our present liability system," Michigan Hospital Association President Spencer C. Johnson said. "This should send a strong message to House members that the reform package sent to them earlier this month by the Senate deserves their immediate consideration."
 Earlier this fall, similar questions posed in a public opinion poll conducted for the Michigan Hospital Association by the Marketing Resource Group, Inc., Lansing, yielded similar responses.
 On Nov. 6, the Senate gave bipartisan approval to two medical liability reform bills (SB 248 and 249) strongly supported by the Michigan Hospital Association, and 41 other diverse statewide organizations and businesses. The bills are now in the House Judiciary Committee.
 The questions on medical liability were part of Public Sector's Public Opinion Monitor, a statewide poll of 800 Michigan voters, conducted Oct. 26-29. The poll, which is underwritten by the Michigan Hospital Association, included questions on auto insurance issues, health insurance, and public attitudes about their elected officials.
 EDITOR'S NOTE: A copy of the medical liability questions and their results follows. A complete copy of the Public Sector survey or the liability questions and results from the September MRG survey are available upon request.
 PUBLIC OPINION MONITOR
 October 1991 Survey
 19. As you may know, the cost of medical liability insurance for doctors and hospitals has risen dramatically over the past few years. (Medical liability insurance is insurance paid by health providers to protect them from financial losses resulting from damages awarded in lawsuits.) I'd like to read you a few statements about this issue and for each, please tell me whether you agree or disagree with that particular statement. IF AGREE OR DISAGREE, ASK: Would that be strongly (agree/disagree) or just somewhat (agree/disagree)?
 a. The increasing cost of medical liability insurance is
 driving up the cost of health care dramatically
 (significantly) in Michigan.
 Strongly agree 68 percent
 Somewhat agree 23 percent
 Both agree/disagree (volunteered) 3 percent
 Somewhat disagree 2 percent
 Strongly disagree 1 percent
 Refused/don't know 0 percent
 b. The increasing cost of liability insurance is making it
 harder for people to get access to health care in Michigan.
 Strongly agree 57 percent
 Somewhat agree 25 percent
 Both agree/disagree (volunteered) 7 percent
 Somewhat disagree 6 percent
 Strongly disagree 2 percent
 Refused/don't know 5 percent
 c. The increasing cost of medical liability insurance is
 making it harder for me and my family to get access to
 health care.
 Strongly agree 27 percent
 Somewhat agree 17 percent
 Both agree/disagree (volunteered) 11 percent
 Somewhat disagree 24 percent
 Strongly disagree 15 percent
 Refused/don't know 5 percent
 20. One way some people have proposed to hold down the cost of medical liability insurance is placing a limit, or cap, on the amount a person can collect for such things as rehabilitation, wage loss, and pain and suffering. In order to limit costs of liability insurance, would you support establishing a limit on the total amount of funds paid out in liability settlements or should courts be free to assess whatever damages they feel are deserved?
 Yes, limit 56 percent
 No, allow the courts 28 percent
 Don't know/undecided 11 percent
 Refused/other 5 percent
 IF YES: (or don't know) Do you support or oppose limiting economic damages such as lost wages, future earnings, and rehabilitation costs to $1.5 million?
 Support 44 percent
 Oppose 9 percent
 Don't know/depends 13 percent
 Refused/others 34 percent
 IF YES: (or don't know) Do you support or oppose limiting noneconomic damages for pain and suffering and emotional stress to $250,000?
 Support 40 percent
 Oppose 11 percent
 Don't know/depends 14 percent
 Refused/others 35 percent
 -0- 11/21/91
 /CONTACT: Nancy Fiedler of the Michigan Hospital Association, 517-323-3443/ CO: Michigan Hospital Association ST: Michigan IN: HEA SU: SB -- DE027 -- 6116 11/21/91 17:31 EST
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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