Category: Legal Reform

Time to Replace the Medical Liability Tort System

By Richard L. Jackson Have you ever been to the doctor and suspected him of ordering a test just to cover his bases, not because you actually needed it? Anyone who has worked with doctors, nurses and hospitals over the years knows it happens and understands that this practice of “defensive medicine” is a major cost driver. Defensive medicine – doctors ordering unnecessary and typically expensive tests, treatments and procedures to avoid malpractice suits and litigation – is a major contributor to still-skyrocketing health care costs. These tests, of questionable clinical value, add up to as much as $650 billion each year, according to a poll of physicians. In Georgia alone, the amount is an estimated $13.25 billion. That’s money… View Article

Patients’ Compensation System

By Richard L. Jackson Executive Summary  The current medical liability tort system is exceptionally expensive, complicated and only awards 20 percent of all legitimate malpractice claims – leaving many patients without the compensation they may need and deserve – in particular, the poor and minorities. Despite the political and economic turmoil throughout the nation, there is an opening – and a need – to finally address the physician liability and patient safety issues that plague the U.S. health care system. This paper introduces the concept of the Patients’ Compensation System, an alternative to the existing medical tort system modeled after the workers’ compensation system, designed to: Lower health care costs by reducing the incidence of unnecessary tests and procedures ordered… View Article

Eminent Domain Protection’s No Done Deal

By Jason Pye  This month marks the second anniversary of the infamous Kelo v. New London decision, a case where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the taking of private property (the practice known as eminent domain) from an individual or a group of individuals and giving it to a private entity on the basis of economic development is a legitimate function of government.   The outrage against the high court’s Kelo decision was the impetus for legislative efforts across the country. Many of these bills lacked any real substance, however, and did very little to protect property rights. The most effective legislation was passed in Florida, where a new constitutional amendment forbids the taking of private property even to eliminate… View Article
By Valerie Bayham It takes a minimum of 12 hours of training to carry a firearm as a private security guard in Georgia. Basic training is only 120 hours for firefighters or 404 hours for police officers.  It would take expert hairbraider Fatou Magassouba 1,500 hours of training to legally braid hair. For many African-Americans and African immigrants, hairbraiding represents an important celebration of natural beauty, culture and freedom. This age-old art involves the intricate twisting, weaving, extending or locking of naturally textured hair. Braiding is a form of natural hair care, an alternative to the damaging chemicals that many African-Americans use to straighten their hair. Braiding is also a great start-up entrepreneurial option for those with limited resources. It… View Article

Commentary: Property Rights, Politics and Policy

By Benita M. Dodd The 2005-2006 legislative term has already seen at least three dozen pieces of legislation that reference eminent domain, the authority of government to take land from a private property owner. Some enable it, justifiably; others would curb it. More will come. Enough red flags are up already, however, to warrant repeating Margaret Thatcher’s warning: “This is no time to go wobbly. We can’t fall at the first fence.” The Legislature’s taking action. So why should Georgia property owners worry? At numerous turns, legislation to restrict government’s power to take private property is being eroded. Vested interests cite the need to remove so-called blight in communities, concerns about holdout landowners in redevelopment projects and about the ability… View Article
By Geoffrey F. Segal and Benita M. Dodd Long ago, Thomas Jefferson warned that “government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have … The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases.” The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing government to seize unblemished private property for “economic development” is one indication of the myriad ways that government can grow. And no longer is it enough to limit government growth by closing taxpayers’ wallets. The Georgia Public Policy Foundation joined the amicus curiae filing in the case of Kelo v. New London to highlight concerns about local governments’ abuse of eminent domain. The city of New London, Conn., had condemned… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd There was a time the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that government could take private property when it was “important to appropriate lands or other property for its own purposes, and to enable it to perform its functions, as must sometimes be necessary in the case of forts, light-houses, and military posts or roads, and other conveniences and necessities of government.” No more. Today’s court has demolished the “public use” spirit and intent of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution with its recent 7-Eleven interpretation of “conveniences.” Merriam-Webster defines convenience as “something …conducive to comfort or ease.” In the case of eminent domain – taking private property for public use – “convenience”… View Article
By Brenda Fitzgerald The risk of medical injury due to physician negligence is the same today as it was 30 years ago. Medical liability awards have greatly increased, medical insurance rates have greatly increased, but the risk of injury due to negligence has remained the same. Even the best health care in the world cannot prevent all bad outcomes. Many medical procedures involve the risk of complications or injury, even when the highest standard of care is meticulously followed. There is a clear difference between bad outcome and bad care. The purpose of our medical liability system is to provide compensation to the victims of medical errors and to create an incentive for health care providers to take steps to… View Article

Patient Safety is the Important Issue

By Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald As medical malpractice reform is debated in the General Assembly, it is critical to keep in focus that the way we handle medical mistakes must ultimately protect patients and improve their care. The current system is not doing that. Of all the statistics being discussed, the most important for patients is that the risk of medical injury due to physician negligence is the same today as it was 30 years ago: A California study of hospital admissions in 1974 revealed that 1 percent of all admissions resulted in a significant medical injury due to medical negligence. A similar study by Harvard in New York in 1984 revealed that 1 percent of all admissions resulted in significant… View Article

Agenda 2004: A Guide to the Issues

Legal Reform Agenda Ensure that Georgia’s tort and contract laws do not discourage the development of business in the state. Ensure that Georgia’s procedural laws are appropriate for the equitable distribution of justice. Require any scientific evidence or other expert testimony to meet a minimum threshold of reliability based on verifiable facts, published literature and industry-accepted standards before being presented to a jury. Adopt a version of the Federal offer of settlement rule to discourage the trial of cases in which there is either little merit to the claims or unreasonable demands for damages. Codify the recent U. S. Supreme Court ruling on punitive damages to give Georgia trial court judges greater latitude when reviewing and a stronger mandate to… View Article

…One of the best things about the Georgia Public Policy Foundation is that it has such a broad membership base.

Dr. Wendy L. Gramm, Former Chairwoman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission more quotes