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NEWS RELEASE
Mar 05, 2003


CONTACT: Carmen Balber - 310-392-0522 x324

43% of CA Doctors Ready to Flee Despite Damage Caps, Medical Association Reports

A report by the CMA contradicts doctor and insurer claims today that the state's malpractice cap has stopped physicians from fleeing the state.
Santa Monica, CA. -- A report by the California Medical Association (CMA) contradicts doctor and insurer claims today that the state's malpractice cap has stopped physicians from fleeing California, according to the non-profit, non-partisan Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR). The survey, published by the CMA in July 2001, shows that 43% of surveyed doctors plan to leave patient care in California by 2004.

The report, "And Then There Were None, The Coming Physician Supply Problem," highlights California doctors' dissatisfaction with the state of medical care in California, after 25 years with a malpractice cap. Doctors specifically decry the pressure they receive to cut costs from HMOs, and the study indicates that "negative economic pressures and managed care's interference in treatment decisions are causing [California's] physicians to leave medicine…"

Dissatisfaction with medical practice in California led more than 25% of doctors surveyed by the CMA to state that they would no longer choose medicine as a profession today, and 1/3 of those to say they would practice, but not in California.

"Ironically, California's physicians created the vices of HMO avarice that are now plaguing their profession when they supported a limited liability environment that encouraged the growth of HMOs," said FTCR's Carmen Balber. "HMOs have free reign to pressure docs to cut corners because they are unaccountable when substandard care has catastrophic consequences."

For example, the nation's largest HMO, Kaiser Permanente, has limited liability in the 900 malpractice cases it defends each year.

"How surprising then are recent headlines about deaths in the HMO's overcrowded emergency rooms and about the HMO's unwillingness to employ pediatric anesthesiologists despite its own anesthesiologists' complaints that they are ill-equipped for some children's surgeries?" said Balber.

A six-week study announced today by USA TODAY found that most physicians are barely affected by the malpractice "crisis" and malpractice premiums are rising no faster than other health care costs.







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