18 May 2009

Committee action, May 18: HB 72

HB 72 by Rep. Greg Cromer would take certain activities performed in nursing homes and declare them as medical procedures. This places any claims of negligence outside of the Medical Malpractice Act and therefore adjudicated outside of its procedures in courts and payable through general liability insurance rather than malpractice, which often excludes these kinds of incidents. Without objection, a clarifying amendment was added.

Rep. Walker Hines wondered whether this would overburden Medical Review Boards, as well as questioned whether hygienic activities should be defined as medical. Louisiana Nursing Home Association Executive Director Joe Donchess did not think so, and said other jurisdictions define them this way. Rep. John Bel Edwards pointed out this bill had come around and failed many times in front of this, the Civil Law and Procedures, Committee and that maybe a better approach would be not to change the definition, but to change insurance law. Donchess argued that the law also designated other non-medical procedures as medical. But Edwards pointed out that many obvious cases of negligence could be shielded under this law.

Opponents argued the bill did not provide insurance, and that only by mandating insurance could this gap be covered. They said claims now would go under the Patients’ Compensation Fund designed to address medical claims, which they said the activities that would be incorporated under this bill were not medical activities. “These are plain old care, plain old dignity” cases argued opponent state Rep. Chris Roy, that under the bill would drive up costs through convening of review panels, deplete the Fund further whose unaccrued liabilities exceeded its funds, and delay the compensation process. They also argued it was overbroad because it included daily acts of personal living as medical. They said that the only nursing homes that would benefit from this bill were those with commercial liability insurance policies, which means it should be fixed through insurance changes.

Rep. Tom Willmott said medical complications can result from negligent acts. Roy said just because the cause may lead to medical complications, it does not make the cause medical in nature.

Proponents disputed whether delays would be incurred and whether the bill was overbroad. Cromer said this bill was a “consumer protection” bill. The bill passed 6-5.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This legislative jujitsu http://tinyurl.com/oeobtu will ultimately make it more difficult for some of the Louisiana's most vulnerable and cherished citizens to be compensated when they are wrongfully and needlessly injured by nursing home personnel. Here's hoping this unbelievably mean-spirited bill fades into obscurity--and quickly!