MAG encouraging legislators to pass tort reform (S.B. 415)

The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) is encouraging state lawmakers to pass a bill (S.B. 415) by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) that would improve the state’s failing tort environment in ways that would help ensure that Georgians have access to the medical care they need.  

Sen. Gooch will address the bill’s key provisions during a press conference that will take place in the North Atrium at the State Capitol at 11 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday, February 27. 

S.B. 415 would eliminate “phantom damages” – which is the difference between what a patient is billed and pays for their care and can translate into much higher medical malpractice awards – and it would change the state’s ‘Civil Practice Act’ to improve and streamline the process for physicians and small businesses that are involved in lawsuits. The measure also includes other legal reforms (e.g., premises liability reform, seat belt admissibility).  

“A lot of the progress we made when tort reform was passed in Georgia in 2005 has been stripped away as a result of unfavorable court decisions,” says MAG President Andrew Reisman, M.D. “At the top of the list is a state Supreme Court ruling that struck down the cap on non-economic damages.”  

Dr. Reisman credits Sen. Gooch for his vision and leadership, stating that, “He understands that it is crucial to change the way we litigate lawsuits in this state or face a future that could see physicians cut back on high-risk services, relocate, or retire because they can’t get or afford medical malpractice insurance.”

Georgia ranks sixth on the ‘Judicial Hellholes’ Top 10 list for 2019-2020, and it is near the bottom (41st) of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Lawsuit Climate Survey’ for 2019 – and keeping in mind that the most recent ‘County Health Rankings and Roadmaps’ program report found that Georgia already has the ninth fewest doctors per capita.