Thursday, March 25, 2004

Mary Littleton at the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association was kind enough to send me a copy of The General Assmebly's Joint Tort Reform Subcommittee Report, which I can't find online. However, the salient conclusions are quoted as follows:
1. The Committee finds that increases in medical malpractice insurance premiums are and have been a consideration in the decisions of physicians to continue their practice or maintain the same level and type of services. However, there was no evidence that access is being eopardized throughout the state, tlut there was some evidence that specialties in rural areas have been impacted (thought the degree was uncertain and unquantifiable) and might tend to be adversely impacted first.

2. The Committee finds that Tennessee does not really regulate medical malpractice insurance premiums, unlike some other states, but the committee was not able to determine from the limited testimony what the impact on premium regulation would have on premium stability or availability of coverage.

3. The committee has determined that medical malpractice insurance premiums for physicians have increased in the last two or three years at rates greater than in previous years. However, it cannot at this point in time reach any definitive conclusions as to the cause of those increases without further information.

4. The committee acknowledges that there is evidence tending to show a correlation between the imposition of limitations on damages in medical malpractice cases and stability in medical malpractice insurance premiums, but the committee also finds that the correlation was not absolute or quantifiable and that other reforms and factors may contribute more directly and timely to market stability.

5. No testimony was provided by any presenters regarding the need for or the effect of any kind of reforms other than a limitation on damages, some of which other reforms Tennessee has already adopted into law. The committee desires to have more information on how these other reforms are working in other states and what combination of factors or reforms may be keeping medical malpractice insurance costs stable in those states with the greatest premium stability.

6. The committee desires to have more detailed claim and court case information reported and would recommend for passage legislation that would provide the committee with a clearer picture of the litigation and claim trends in Tennessee, the impact of litigation (and claims) on medical malprac;tice insurance premiums, and those actions that might best lead to premium stability.

In other words, there was no proof submitted to the Joint Committee to justify tort "reform" whatsoever. Quite interestingly, the various witnesses before this Joint Committee were ALL from the hospital, doctor and insurance (i.e., pro tort limitation) side of the issue.
Guess what? The emperor has no clothes!