Tort reform still a pipe dream for providers

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Tort reform still a pipe dream for providers
Tort reform still a pipe dream for providers
The news hit pretty broadly this week that a House committee was taking another swing at molding a tort reform bill. We at McKnight's, and many others, dutifully gave it a decent airing.

Unfortunately, like so many things out of Washington, it's liable to wind up being just so much hot-airing when all is said and done. Reducing the number and scope of lawsuits against long-term care providers could be an incredible boost to the profession. Just ask your colleagues in Texas, one of few places that have achieved tort reform worth talking about in the last handful of years.

But, once again, it's not going to happen with federal lawmakers. The HEALTH Act (Help Accessible, Efficient, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare) may be a catchy name, but the Senate and White House are still solidly in Democrat hands so that's all one really needs to know. Next issue, please.

The House has passed tort reform measures on numerous occasions in recent memory, but each time, the Senate did not followed suit. I think it was up to four times at last count — oops, it was four in 2004. Better add a few to that. There's nothing to say this time will be any different, President Obama's teaser comments that he might open to some sort of reform notwithstanding.

The good news for providers is legal pressures and the threat of lawsuits have actually slowed down overall in recent times. That's relatively speaking, mind you, because your livelihood is still fraught with many, many potential legal landmines. But the fact is premiums lately have not continued their skyrocketing path of a few years ago. That might be small consolation, but it's better than none.

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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

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