Groups protest pain and suffering cap

Associated Press
Friday, March 4, 2011

A wide range of consumer and patient groups are rallying against a measure included in Medicaid reforms that would cap damages due to pain and suffering at $250,000, a controversial step that could mark the biggest change in the state’s malpractice law in decades.
The governor’s Medicaid Redesign Team’s Proposal 131 would limit non-economic damages to $250,000, which supporters say would reduce medical malpractice costs and eliminate excessive payouts.
It also would create a special compensation fund for children born with brain damage, while imposing limits on the ability to go to court in these cases.
While the governor’s Medicaid Redesign Team views these as ways to reduce health care costs, critics say the cap curtails patients’ rights.
And they view a separate system to manage neurological injury incurred at birth as removing the most vulnerable from the conventional legal system.
The groups, which include the Center for Justice and Democracy, the Center for Medical Consumers and Citizen Action of New York, said they believed this favors the “hospitals and health care industry, which would benefit financially from the measure, and which uses sick and injured patients as bargaining chips.
“This additional burden on families who already face unimaginable challenges in caring for a profoundly disabled child is without compassion,” the groups wrote.
Joanne Doroshow, executive director for the Center for Justice and Democracy sees the new system to compensate brain damaged children as limiting their family’s “ability to seek justice in court” and be properly compensated.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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