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Medical malpractice damage cap reform has died in legislature

The reform attempt in the Indiana legislature to amend the state's limits on medical malpractice damage caps has hit a roadblock, as negotiations have broken down between the parties over a failure to agree on the terms of the amendment.

It had looked like the groups, consisting of doctors, hospitals and trial lawyers suffered a breakdown in communication, where they believe they had come to a mutual consensus but when they saw the written agreement, they found in the words of one senator, "Well that's really not what I thought it was."

The problem is the $1.25 million cap on medical malpractice damages has not been adjusted for inflation since it was enacted in 1999. Inflation has been at work in the last 17 years, and as we all know, when it comes to healthcare and medical expenses, the growth has been much faster than that of the general consumer price index.

In a few states with damage caps, the failure to adjust for inflation has lead to a court to rule the caps unconstitutional, a threat sufficiently severe that doctors, hospitals, and their insurance companies  had recognized the need to compromise.

But maybe not. This latest failure points to the tremendous inertia that is present within the healthcare industry.  There are many doctors who are unwilling to accept that they may have to pay higher insurance premiums to insure against their negligence. They like the status quo.

We need to keep in mind that whatever happens in the Indiana legislature, doctors will be negligent, patients will be injured and some will die because of that negligence. These facts will not change.

The only question is whether the doctors will be held accountable for that negligence or if the innocent injured patients and their families will be the ones who pay for that negligence.

Source: wfyi.org, "Effort To Reform Indiana's Medical Malpractice Law Stalls," DREW DAUDELIN, January 26, 2016

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