The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

October 20, 2012

Fox judgment is bad for New Yorkers

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The Daily Star

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The recent news of a historic, nine-figure judgment against Fox Hospital (“Fox Hospital hit with $126M verdict,” Oct. 3) should serve as a reminder for why health care costs in New York remain among the highest in the nation.

An Otsego County jury awarded the plaintiff $126m to pay for a lifetime of care and lost wages. The jury found Fox Hospital liable for the woman’s heart condition and decided Fox should compensate her for her injuries. However, her medical care and lost wages are just a fraction of the total $126 million award. The remainder is for non-economic or “pain and suffering” damages.

New York needs to set reasonable limits on non-economic awards. Thirty-one other states have passed caps on non-economic awards and when Gov. Cuomo was first elected, he tried to pass similar legislation in New York. Sadly, the governor’s efforts were thwarted by the powerful trial lawyer lobby and New York medical costs continue to soar.

When judgments get this high, we all pay for it. The cost of this award will be passed on to everyone seeking medical care at Fox Hospital and indeed, anyone seeking care in New York state. Judgments like this will be priced into the medical liability insurance rates for every doctor in New York, leading to higher costs for every state resident.

In 2010, New York doctors spent $1.65 billion in liability insurance premiums, according to a recent study. The next closest state was California, where doctors spent $820 million with a much higher population.

Anyone hurt by medical negligence should be compensated. But unless we can enact a reasonable limit on non-economic damages, all New Yorkers will suffer.

Thomas B. Stebbins

Albany

Stebbins is executive director for the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York