Senators Introduce Bill To Fund Alternative Dispute Resolution Models in Medical Malpractice Cases
Sens. Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.) on Wednesday announced a bill that would authorize the HHS secretary to fund state demonstration projects to test alternatives to the current medical liability litigation system, CQ HealthBeat reports. The bill would test three dispute resolution models:
- The early disclosure and compensation model -- which would encourage health care providers to disclose medical errors that result in an injury and offer compensation for such errors, with such compensation not considered an admission of liability;
- The administrative determination of compensation model -- under which an administrative board of patient advocates, providers and attorneys would establish classes of medical errors and determine compensation rates for each, with patients guaranteed compensation for economic and noneconomic damages and attorney fees; and
- The special health court model -- under which judges with health care expertise, with help from independent expert witnesses, would adjudicate medical malpractice claims.
In a statement, Baucus said, "This bill tackles the medical liability issue from a new perspective, through a set of pilot programs centered on improving patient safety. We need to think creatively to try to solve the problems of rising medical liability premiums."
Enzi said in a statement that the current medical liability litigation system "doesn't work for patients or health care providers." He added, "It does not provide prompt or fair compensation to injured patients, and it's racked by inconsistencies and delays. ... Washington should take the lead to encourage states to create alternative forums to resolve malpractice disputes" (CQ HealthBeat, 6/29). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.