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State health care at crisis point

With the recent passage of Cover Tennessee, health care in Tennessee is facing another journey in health care experimentation. This action is viewed with some degree of trepidation by the physicians throughout our state who will be relied upon to provide the care for new Cover Tennessee enrollees due to the lack of details presently available.

Tennessee health care is already at a crisis point. In February, we were named the 21st ‘medical liability crisis state’ by the American Medical Association because of the serious signs of access problems currently facing our patients.

While the Tennessee Medical Association supports plans to ensure fair access to affordable health care services for all patients, it is paramount that the physician who will be relied on to provide the care must equally be relied on to help develop the plan.

For Cover Tennessee, TennCare and all other health insurance programs to have a fair chance to succeed on their true merits, our current health care environment cannot continue to be weakened by our present medical liability laws that are outdated and weaken our resources to provide good medical care of Tennesseans.

We watched closely as some lawmakers attempted to attach medical liability reform to the Cover Tennessee legislation. We are glad to see that many on Capitol Hill realize the need to make changes to our liability laws to give a new program a fighting chance.

We understand why the measure did not pass, but we stress the need for full and complete consideration of Medical Liability Reform in next year’s session.

The U.S. Senate recently tabled efforts again to pass comprehensive Medical Liability Reform legislation at the national level.

The responsibility now lies at the state level to protect access to critical health services by putting a stop to medical malpractice lawsuit abuse.

The majority of Tennesseans support medical liability reform. Thirty other states have made reforms to their law to protect access to care and help lower the real and human cost of medical lawsuit abuses. It’s time for Tennessee to do the same.

As the 152nd president of the Tennessee Medical Association, I begin my term with an unyielding commitment to continuing [to] win medical liability reforms at the Capitol in Nashville to help all Tennesseans. The physician community will be working diligently to elect pro-medical liability reform candidates this year.

It’s time for our lawmakers to listen to the will of the people, look at examples of other states, and do what is necessary to ensure that when patients need care, good doctors are there to provide it.

Charles R. Handorf, M.D., President

Tennessee Medical Association


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