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Medical malpractice, needle program among legislative study issues
e-Reports, July 27, 2015
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This summer, the ISMA is monitoring four legislative study committees on your behalf. State legislators are investigating:

  • Indiana’s medical malpractice act
  • Needle distribution and collection programs
  • The Indiana Department of Insurance consumer complaint process
  • Smoking in bars, casinos and private clubs

“This a warning for what is coming during the next General Assembly,” said Mike Rinebold, ISMA director of Government Relations. “These issues will have a huge impact on patients, access to care and the practice of medicine.”

Medical malpractice
During the last session, legislators debated a bill that would have increased the medical malpractice damages cap by more than

30 percent and increased medical malpractice insurance costs by 15 percent. Though it failed, the issue was sent to the Interim Study Committee on Courts and Judiciary.

Committee members are tasked with:

  • Determining if the cap on medical malpractice damages should be increased
  • Recommending improvements to streamline the medical review panel process

“We will be involved in this committee every step of the way,” said Rinebold. “Legislators need to understand the importance of the medical malpractice act and the critical balance it strikes between physicians’ and patients’ interests. This is definitely an issue that Indiana physicians can expect to see at the Statehouse this winter.”

Needle distribution and insurance complaints
Already, needle distribution programs have been established in Scott, Wayne and Madison counties to reduce the spread of hepatitis C and HIV.

The Public Health, Behavioral Health and Human Services Committee is reviewing the effectiveness of these programs. The committee also will consider appropriate criminal penalties for drug offenses.

Additionally, the authority of the Indiana Department of Insurance to investigate complaints against accident and sickness insurance companies, and health maintenance organizations will be studied.

E-cigarettes, tobacco taxes
A recent report by the American Cancer Society indicated Indiana could save lives by increasing tobacco taxes, and funding prevention and control programs.

To address these issues, the Committee on Public Policy will investigate:

  • Increasing the cigarette tax and its impact on smoking rates
  • Funding sources for tobacco prevention and cessation programs
  • Prohibiting smoking in bars, casinos and private clubs
  • Defining E-cigarette products

“Now is the time for physicians to have conversations with their legislators about these or other issues that are important,” said Rinebold.

Need help contacting your legislator? Email Mike Rinebold.

Find a complete list of legislative interim study committees at in.gov.

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