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 LANSING, Mich., Jan. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Doctors, hospitals and businesses today hailed the bi-partisan introduction of medical liability reform bills in the Michigan House of Representatives on Wednesday.
 The bills -- House Bills 5434 and 5435 -- are aimed at improving access to health care and controlling health care costs. They are virtually identical to those passed overwhelmingly with bi-partisan support in November by the Michigan Senate.
 A majority -- 62 of 110 House members -- already have signed on as co-sponsors of the two-bill package. Co-sponsors include 17 Democrats and 45 Republicans.
 Leading the effort in the House are Democrats Michael Griffin of Jackson, Thomas Hickner of Bay City, Roland Niederstadt of Saginaw and Joseph Young Sr. of Detroit; and Republicans Richard Bandstra of Grand Rapids and Michael Nye of Litchfield.
 One bill would establish a faster system for settling lawsuits outside of the courts and the other includes a series of legal reforms. The reforms are aimed at getting more compensation to truly injured patients and redirecting millions of dollars back into the health care system rather than to the legal system.
 Currently, only 37 cents of each dollar paid for liability coverage ends up compensating patients. Most -- 49 percent -- goes to attorneys and court costs. Michigan doctors and hospitals pay about $500 million every year for liability coverage, nearly the highest rates in the nation and an expense that drives up health care costs for everyone.
 Members of the Michigan Medical Liability Reform Coalition, representing more than 50 groups, associations and organizations across the state, reacted favorably to the bill's bi-partisan introduction.
 "Everyone in Michigan will benefit from this legislation because it will help control costs and help assure that physicians are available in local hospitals," said Robert D. Burton, M.D., president of the Michigan State Medical Society. "People are losing access to health care, and that must be stopped."
 "Democrats and Republicans are supporting these bills because they see the devastating effects of Michigan's medical liability crisis in every area of the state, with obstetricians quitting or retiring early, specialists leaving and vital hospital services being threatened," said Spencer Johnson, president of the Michigan Hospital Association. "I am encouraged to see the level of bi-partisan support for reform in the House."
 "As our patients' advocates, we hope the Michigan House will act quickly to pass these bills," said Eugene Oliveri, D.O., president of the Michigan Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons. "They've passed the Senate and Gov. John Engler has indicated he wants to sign them into law as soon as possible, not only to improve health care, but also to increase access to adequate and complete health care for everyone in Michigan."
 "For many Michigan employers, the cost of employee health insurance has become a tremendous financial burden," said Nancy McKeague, director of government relations for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. "We believe these bills will help control those costs and assure the continued availability of employer-sponsored benefit plans."
 The bills will go to the House Judiciary Committee chaired by Democrat Perry Bullard of Ann Arbor. The Michigan Medical Liability Reform Coalition urges those supporting the bills to contact their local state representatives.
 -0- 1/9/92
 /CONTACT: David Fox of Michigan State Medical Society, 517-337-1351; Nancy Fiedler of Michigan Hospital Association, 517-323-3443; Liz Howie of Michigan Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons, 313-476-2800; or Nancy McKeague of Michigan Chamber of Commerce, 517-371-2100/ CO: Michigan Medical Liability Reform Coalition ST: Michigan IN: HEA INS SU: LEG

ML -- DE016 -- 8205 01/09/92 11:59 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 9, 1992

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