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NJAAPS meets with the OLS in Trenton

On April 12, 2011, Andy Schlafly,  legal counsel to the AAPS, Peter Leone, expert in medical malpractice, Nora Craig, NJ-2011 co-founder, Lou Crescitelli, legislative Chief of Staff, and Drs. John and Alieta Eck went to Trenton to speak with government officials from the NJ Office of Legislative Services. This is the group that reports to the legislators to determine how any legislation will affect the NJ budget. We presented  data and information to help them see that physicians volunteering in free clinics in exchange for medical malpractice coverage provided by the state would be a big boost to the economy as it would lower government spending on health care for the poor.

We brought her the following facts about the Volunteer Physicians Protection Act:

  • The fact that fewer people will sign up for Medicaid
  • The fact that fewer people on Medicaid will mean lower payments to managed care
  • The fact that managed care companies are salivating to get the Medicaid contracts so they must be looking at great profits at taxpayer expense
  • The fact that when people cannot find a doctor who takes Medicaid, they are more likely to show up for a more expensive ER visit
  • The fact that savings will be realized before any tort claim will reach any verdict or settlement
  • The fact that the total payout for malpractice comes to $200 million per year ($80 million defensible claims) and that currently Medicaid managed care gets $500 million in administrative fees.  This WILL cost less.
  • The fact that physicians providing free care will increase access to care for poor patients who will be seen earlier and when they are less sick
  • The fact that fewer people will require disability if they can get the surgery they need, currently unavailable via Medicaid.  (Eg. sinus surgery instead of the patient going on disability)
  • The fact that the federally qualified clinics actually cost 10 times more per patient than the cost to deliver care in a non-government free clinic where physicians volunteer.  Defunding these FQHCs , even partially, will increase revenue to the state.
  • The fact that Medicaid fraud will be markedly reduced. We currently have 49 full-time employees who search for Medicaid fraud.
  • The fact that the FTCA only needs 3 full time employees to run the medical malpractice  program for free clinics for the entire country. Sharing the same paperwork with the states will make this administratively simple-- at a very low cost.
  • The fact that less secretarial staff will be needed by the Medicaid department as fewer patients will be signing up. Fewer employees means lower state costs
  • The fact that covering physicians for malpractice will actually decrease the numbers of defensive tests by 20% and will thus decrease overall health care costs for people with insurance as well
  • The fact that we will be less likely to have a mass exodus of physicians from NJ if this becomes law.

We await the final results of the meeting with the OLS. But it is clear that we have a battle ahead. We will need to go directly to the people and their legislators. The people of NJ can no longer afford to spend $10.7 billion on a Medicaid system that lines of pockets of bureaucrats and does not pay the actual caregivers.  Come to the Morristown Tea Party event on Thursday, April 14, 6:45 PM at the VFW in Whippany.

Alieta Eck, MD

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