Still trying to convince Congress that medical liability reform is not needed, an anti-tort reform group has reportedly released another in a long line of poorly designed and poorly executed, trial bar-funded “research” reports on the medical malpractice lawsuit industry, the American Insurance Association (AIA) said.
“The Center for Justice and Democracy (CJD), through its anti-insurance group, Americans for Insurance Reform, has once again taken the low road by distorting and misusing insurance industry data to assert that medical malpractice civil justice reforms have no impact on medical liability costs,” said David Corum, AIA assistant vice president.
“Clearly timed to coincide with Congress’ consideration of medical malpractice reform legislation, which the U.S. House of Representatives passed yesterday, the report is a desperate – and obviously unsuccessful – attempt to distract lawmakers from the facts about the medical lawsuit industry and the merits of H.R. 5, the HEALTH Act of 2005.”
In its latest report, Measured Costs, CJD uses loss cost data from the Insurance Services Office (ISO) to claim that tort reforms have no impact on underlying insurance loss costs. “If that were the case – that is, if tort reform did not impact underlying insurance claim costs – why is CJD fighting so desperately against tort reform?” Corum asked. “Indeed, it is the excessive and unfair costs generated by an unpredictable, unconstrained medical liability system that CJD defends,” said Corum.
AIA and its tort reform allies are fighting for medical liability reforms that will make the system more predictable and stable by eliminating these costs. As the U.S. General Accounting Office concluded in its 2003 study, claim losses are the primary factor driving medical malpractice premium increases; this is still true today.
“The methods used in CJD’s analysis would be laughable if this were not such a serious subject,” Corum stated. CJD assigned each state to one of two groups – those with “more tort limits” and those with “fewer tort limits.” It then reportedly simply compares changes in underlying loss costs for the two groups of states over a ten-year period.
However, individual states are arbitrarily assigned to one group or the other, and this distorts the findings. For example, Illinois is assigned to the group of states with “more tort limits” even though many of the reforms enacted in that state were ruled unconstitutional in 1997. Other states are included in the “more tort limits” group even though they have yet to enact the most critical reform – a cap on noneconomic damages.
“Another fatal flaw with the study’s methodology is that CJD examines the overall loss costs for all types of individual medical providers – not just those limited specialties that have been targeted by the lawsuit industry,” said Corum. It is common knowledge that surgeons, OB/GYNS, and a handful of other medical specialists have borne the brunt of the trial bar’s lawsuit campaign.
However, CJD reportedly simply lumps all medical providers together – diluting and distorting the true impact of the lawsuit craze on those medical providers most affected. The changes in loss costs presented in the analysis would reportedly have been significantly greater if those largely unaffected by the lawsuit craze had been excluded.
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