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What You Should Know

Why Limitations in Medical Payments is A Very Bad Idea

For years, legislators have been trying (so far unsuccessfully) to pass a bill which would have a very chilling effect on hospitals and doctors. The Limitations in Medical Payments (LIMP) bill, which has received little attention in the press, would destroy the ability of a hospital or doctor to charge, and be paid, a reasonable price for their services if the patient was harmed as a result of the negligence of another. The legislation would prohibit a jury from hearing evidence of a doctor’s or hospital’s full charges for the treatment they provided after the negligence occurred.

It’s a little confusing, but it works like this: Typically in emergency situations, medical professionals must make quick decisions on treatment in order to save the life of a patient. They often do not know or care what caused the emergency; their primary concern and responsibility is to treat the patient’s emergency as it is presented. Limitations in Medical Payments (LIMP) would mean that doctors might work on these patients without the chance of ever being paid, even though they weren’t negligent in their care of the patient.

This type of legislation would keep a jury from hearing how much a doctor’s expertise is worth, regardless of the doctor’s usual charges. It would allow a wrongdoer to question a doctor’s judgment on treatment options prescribed. Essentially, the legislation would put cost effectiveness above quality of care. Additionally, the legislation further harms a victim of negligence, because it allows wrongdoers to escape accountability. If a defense attorney can blame the last provider of care, shifting the blame away from the provider whose negligence caused the harm, than the insurance company can avoid paying a claim.

This presents a huge issue of access to care for injured victims, unfairly eliminating their ability to receive the best care after being injured. People who are injured by no fault of their own should have the right to choose their doctor and receive the highest quality of treatment available in order to become whole again. This legislation could put those choices in the hands of the wrongdoer and the wrongdoer’s insurance company.

Further, this type of legislation would force doctors to sue their patient, the victim, not the wrongdoer or the wrongdoer’s insurance company, for unpaid medical bills. This would cause further harm to an innocent person, considerably add to the backlog in the court system, and force physicians to spend more time in the courtroom than treating other patients. Meanwhile, the person or entity that made the medical treatment necessary in the first place walks away free and clear of financial responsibility.

If none of that sounds like it makes any sense, it’s because it doesn’t. Insurance companies lobby our elected officials for laws that benefit their bottom line, not the well-being of patients- or the treatment providers. An insurance company’s single goal is to spend less money, regardless of the impact on the patient. As personal injury attorneys, we remain vigilant against any legislation that would hurt our clients.