Don’t look now, but in Georgia, a Republican state senator, a supposed advocate of less government, is teaming up with a group of health care executives, alleged supporters of less government, and pushing the Patient Injury Act, http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/20132014/130221.pdf, an innocent sounding piece of legislation designed to strip an injured patient of their Constitutional right to trial by jury, and replace it with another government bureaucracy. How bad is the Act? Even the Medical Association of Georgia is opposed to it, believing it will increase claims, increase costs and ultimately be found to be unconstitutional.
The Act, with long debunked talking points masquerading as legislative findings, would implement in Georgia a worker’s compensation-type system for medical malpractice claims. It would create a taxpayer funded Patient Compensation Board that will administer a Patient Compensation System. Compensation under the system will be tied, at least initially, to average payments voluntary reported by the Physicians Insurers Association of America, an insurance industry trade association for medical providers. If implemented, payment under this system would be the exclusive means in Georgia by which people injured through medical negligence would be compensated. As envisioned, the Board will have 11 appointed members, only 2 of which will be patient advocates.
There are many problems with the Patient Injury Act. It focuses on medical providers, rather than patients. It would trample an individual’s Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial as set forth in the US Constitution and in Georgia’s Bill of Rights. And, in all likelihood, it will fail to adequately compensate victims of medical negligence. The Act is bad legislation and should not be enacted.