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HOSPITALS URGE LIABILITY REFORM

 HOSPITALS URGE LIABILITY REFORM
 LANSING, Mich., March 18 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 1,200


representatives from hospitals across Michigan gathered here today to urge the immediate passage of medical liability reform legislation currently in the House of Representatives.
 The "Day at the Capitol," sponsored by the Michigan Hospital Association (MHA) and the Michigan Association of Hospital Auxiliaries, is held annually to bring pressing health care issues of concern to hospitals directly to state legislators. In individual meetings and at a noon luncheon, hospital leaders met with their state senators and representatives to secure support for medical liability reform.
 "Community hospitals from every corner of Michigan and the citizens they serve solidly support the proposed medical liability reform legislation now before the House," said Spencer C. Johnson, MHA president. "Our presence here in Lansing emphasizes our commitment to reform, and demonstrates to the Legislature that we are united in our call for fairer and more equitable medical liability laws now."
 Michigan's current medical liability system is among the most expensive in the nation, costing one-half billion dollars a year for hospitals and physicians, and has had a devastating effect on access to health care services for many state residents. In many areas of Michigan, both urban and rural, there are severe shortages of obstetricians, orthopedic surgeons, emergency room physicians, and even family doctors, because of the medical liability climate.
 The event's keynote speaker, Arthur Miller, professor of law at Harvard Law School, called the cost of litigation for medical liability "so frightening that providers are forced to settle."
 "We've got to get control of the process," Miller said. "We can put a man on the moon in 2 1/2 days, but why should it take five, six, eight years to settle a medical liability case?"
 Miller is a regular commentator on legal issues for ABC's "Good Morning America," host of two syndicated television programs, "Miller's Court" and "Headlines on Trial," and moderator for the nationally acclaimed PBS series produced by the Columbia University Seminars on Media and Society, including "Managing Our Miracles: Health Care in America."
 "The reform legislation that passed the Senate last fall with a bipartisan majority, and the nearly identical legislation that was co- sponsored by a majority of representatives, now languishes in a House committee," said Johnson. "Michigan hospitals call on House Democratic leadership to move consideration of these bills in the full House of Representatives."
 The current system returns only 37 cents of every medical liability dollar to injured patients, the rest goes to administrative costs, primarily attorney fees and court costs. But it is the hidden costs of the current system -- defensive medicine practices, physicians leaving the state, or avoiding high-risk services because of the threat of lawsuits, and the resultant reductions in access and increased cost for health care -- that prove the current system is seriously flawed and needs reform.
 "In public opinion survey after survey, Michigan voters clearly believe that medical liability reform should be addressed now," said Johnson. "With reapportionment, an anti-incumbency mood, and the upcoming fall elections, those seeking public office ought not lightly dismiss the will of the electorate, especially when it comes to improving access to health care for all state residents."
 -0- 3/18/92
 /CONTACT: Nancy Fiedler of Michigan Hospital Association, 517-323-3443/ CO: Michigan Hospital Association; Michigan Association of Hospital
 Auxiliaries ST: Michigan IN: HEA SU: LEG


ML-KK -- DE019 -- 9275 03/18/92 13:25 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 18, 1992
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