Issue One; The facts say no | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Issue One; The facts say no

Posted By on Sun, Oct 7, 2018 at 8:16 AM

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A good roundup by John Lovett of the Times-Record in Fort Smith on competing arguments on Issue One, which would cap damage awards and attorney fees and strip the Supreme Court of court rule-making authority. The roundup includes some unrefuted facts from opponents to the measure by the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce to fatten profits of nursing homes, hospitals and bad corporate and medical actors  by protecting them from lawsuits for malpractice, negligence and other harm.

Example:

Gallagher said only .05 percent of lawsuits in Arkansas have received more than $1 million, and the average jury award is $3,750.

Arkansas has also not lost rural hospitals at the same rate as surrounding states, Gallagher noted. And there have been two medical schools accredited in up Arkansas in the past few years.

Gallagher questioned the belief that tort reform in Arkansas would improve health care when Texas has seen decreased care ratings at nursing homes after the tort reform was passed there. The Arkansas Legislators based Issue 1 on the legislation passed in Texas.

Gallagher also said the average rate for Arkansas medical malpractice insurance is the 10th lowest in the country at $25,036. And doctors in Arkansas pay an average of 39 percent less than doctors nationally, according to the Medical Liability Monitor. Also, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioner’s nationwide summary of medical malpractice, between 2011 and 2015 Arkansas insurers took in more than twice as much as they paid out. There were $329 million in premiums written and $158 million in losses, the insurance report states.
The other side says setting a low value on human life and limiting access to jury trials will create jobs in Arkansas. The advocates  produce nothing by way of believable evidence for that notion. A shortage of doctors in poor rural areas has nothing to do with malpractice lawsuits, for example.

Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce has tossed Issue One off the ballot, but that decision has been appealed to the Arkansas Supreme Court, which tends to show great deference to the legislature. The legislature put this amalgamation of multiple constitutional changes on the ballot.

Big business wants a vote, of course, hoping its gigantic war chest and dishonest advertising will once again gull the gullible. But there are even some opponents who'd prefer a vote and a defeat of the corporate lobby as a deterrent for the future. Wishful thinking. The state Chamber won't be happy until injured people can't sue businesses at all.

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