Wednesday, April 18, 2007

SB 507 - Patients' Rights or Tort Reform?

Let's hear from you Democrats out there, what about Senate Bill 507 the one that "erodes patients rights?" Check it out, both sides then make your voice heard at the state capitol -- TODAY!

For information about the bill click here.


Hugh M. Robert said...

SB 507 was passed out of the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Tuesday and provides for serious erosions to patient rights.

“SB 507 erodes many rights that a patient or consumer has for injuries caused by the negligence of doctors, hospitals, and product manufacturers” said Executive Director Hugh M. Robert.

Those touting the positive aspects to the bill are claiming that doctors are leaving the state due to the insurance crisis. However, “this is just not true,” says Robert. “The fact is that based on the 2005 numbers provided by the Federation of State Medical Boards of the US, Oklahoma ranks 4th in doctors per capita.” Additionally, PLICO, the largest insurer of doctors in the state has filed for a rate reduction.”

The contents of SB 507 contain items such as caps on economic damages, which are generally discriminatory against children, women, the elderly, minorities and low wage earners. Employment income is the basis for calculating most economic damage awards. Non-economic damage caps discriminate against children because children have no income upon which to base a calculation. Caps discriminate against retired seniors, who often suffer neglect and abuse in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, because they also have no employment income.

While those who authored the bill indicate this will cut down on frivolous lawsuits, data shows otherwise: data shows that those that would be harmed by these kinds of provisions are those who are the most severely injured, those who are left blind, paralyzed, or brain damaged.

The bill also contains provisions that would limit the statute of repose to 8 years. Since statutes of repose limit liability based on time in the marketplace, they disproportionately harm those people who cannot afford to buy new products. Consumer protections should affect all income levels equally; statutes that disproportionately effect the low-income are particularly egregious. “The limitation of liability through statutes of repose include things like farm equipment and used cars, therefore decreasing incentives for manufacturers to make products that are safe and provides immunity if they can get past the 8 year mark,” says Robert.

Another anti-consumer section calls for the abolition of the collateral source rule. “This will punish those who have paid for insurance out of their own pocket by providing a credit to the very person that caused the injury, in essence making the injured party pay for the wrongdoing of another,” says Robert. He goes on to express “it just doesn’t seem fair that person who caused the injury will get a credit for the financial planning or foresight of the injured party.” By abolishing the collateral source rule, it will allow the injuring party to deduct the insurance benefits paid from compensation awarded to an injured party.

“It is extremely disappointing that the legislators are misinforming the public in the interest of passing legislation that would take away a patient or consumer’s constitutional right” says Robert. “The fact is that similar legislation in other states have not delivered the benefits they promised and has left many innocent children, women, elderly without the ability to have a jury hear their case.”

Hugh M. Robert said...

Despite record profits, the CEOs of Oklahoma’s largest insurance companies and HMOs are reaching for the expense of people injured or killed by corporate greed and irresponsibility. You can write the Governor today by clicking here and encourage him to veto this legislation:

They pushed a law through the Legislature that would cap the damages judges and juries could award victims for pain and suffering...even in the most extreme cases. And the law would not require the insurance companies or HMOs to pass along the savings to doctors and patients.

Here are the reasons Gov. Henry should veto SB 507:
• It allows drunk drivers in some cases to kill someone and not have to pay the family of the victim anything.
• “Capping” lawsuits discriminates against children, retired Oklahomans and stay-at-home mothers.
• “Capping” lawsuits discriminates against the most catastrophically injured victims whose lives are damaged forever.
• It limits the rights of farmers and ranchers who are injured by defective farm equipment or machinery.
• It allows nursing homes and hospitals to hide the evidence about the injury or death of a patient.
• It allows drug companies to hide the deadly results of prescription drugs they manufacture.


Mike said...

Oklahoma SB 507 If people are not paid what they should be, it should not matter that they are not part of a group. Pass this on that we're against it. Thank you,