Doctors, Trial Lawyers Back 'Provider Shield' Law in GA

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , May 8, 2013

"We took the position that what's good for the goose must also be good for the gander," Clark says. "And fortunately, the General Assembly agreed with us."

The shield law is not the only example of Peach State doctors and trial lawyers working together this year for the common good of Georgians. Clark notes their united effort to defeat SB141, which would have replaced medical malpractice jury trials with administrative hearings.

"It is an unworkable and unconstitutional alternative to jury trials that has failed miserably in some European countries where it has been tried," Clark says.

"And, it is based on a fallacious premise that says doctors spend 25% of their time performing unnecessary medical tests and medical procedures, something that is impossible in this day and time when managed care runs medicine and prevents doctors often from being able to perform even absolutely medically necessary tests and procedures, much less from being able to do unnecessary tests and procedures."

"Moreover, if you buy their premise, then you have to accept that that means doctors are committing insurance fraud, Medicaid fraud and Medicare fraud for billing for all those unnecessary tests and procedures. You and I both know that they are not doing that. And, that was a point we were able to agree on with our friends at the medical association. And, we agreed that the proposal was not going to bring down costs of malpractice insurance or costs of healthcare."

So, cooperation can occur between these two hostile camps. But before we break out the tie-dye shirts and sway together to Kumbaya, remember that trial lawyers and physicians will continue to eye one another with suspicion in state houses across the nation.

"We have worked together on another bill or two but it's rare because they spend way too much of their political capital trying to insulate physicians from accountability," Clark says. "So, there are instances where we work together. But, again, remember the locusts."

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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