Senate committee holds hearing on liability insurance costs

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The U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging is holding a hearing Thursday on medical liability insurance costs for doctors in nursing homes. The hearing, lead by Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), comes just before the Senate considers legislation to shift class-action suits to federal courts so lawyers cannot seek suits specifically in state courts that are known to hand out huge awards. A similar bill has passed the House.

The American Medical Directors Association released a survey showing that more than 20% of physicians who work in nursing homes said they had problems obtaining or renewing their medical liability insurance in the past year. Of them, more than 30% said insurers refused to cover them because they work in nursing homes. More than 12% of those physicians said that insurance carriers had pulled out of the nursing home market in their areas. 

The hearing, entitled "Medical Liability in Long-Term Care: Is Escalating Litigation a Threat to Quality and Access," will be held at 2:00 p.m. in room 628 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, DC.  It will be Webcast and available for viewing later at http://aging.senate.gov/index.cfm?Fuseaction=Hearings.Home.