SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE

 

 

May 19, 2005                                                                                                          Hearing Room C

3:10 P.M.                                                                                                                     Tapes  64 - 66

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:         Sen. Floyd Prozanski, Chair

Sen. Roger Beyer, Vice-Chair

Sen. Charlie Ringo

Sen. Doug Whitsett

 

MEMBER EXCUSED:          Sen. Ginny Burdick

 

VISITING MEMBER:                       Sen. Alan Bates

 

STAFF PRESENT:                 Anna Braun, Committee Administrator

Karen Scoffield, Committee Assistant

 

MEASURES/ISSUES HEARD:        

                                                HB 2740A – Work Session

                                                HB 2718 – Work Session

                                                HB 2294 – Work Session

                                                HB 2126 – Work Session

                                                HB 2125 – Work Session

                                                SB 446 – Public Hearing

 

These minutes are in compliance with Senate and House Rules.  Only text enclosed in quotation marks reports a speaker’s exact words.  For complete contents, please refer to the tapes.

 

TAPE/#

Speaker

Comments

TAPE 64, A

005

Chair Prozanski

Calls the meeting to order at 3:15 p.m.  Opens a work session on HB 2740A.

HB 2740A – WORK SESSION

012

Anna Braun

Committee Administrator.  Provides an overview of HB 2740A.

017

Sen. Beyer

MOTION:  Moves HB 2740A to the floor with a DO PASS recommendation.

 

 

VOTE:  3-0-2

EXCUSED:  2 - Burdick, Whitsett

 

Chair Prozanski

Hearing no objection, declares the motion CARRIED.

SEN. PROZANSKI will lead discussion on the floor.

021

Chair Prozanski

Closes work session on HB 2740A and opens work session on HB 2718.

HB 2718 – WORK SESSION

023

Anna Braun

Committee Administrator.  Provides an overview of HB 2718.

025

Sen. Beyer

MOTION:  Moves HB 2718 to the floor with a DO PASS recommendation.

 

 

VOTE:  4-0-1

EXCUSED:  1 - Beyer

 

Chair Prozanski

Hearing no objection, declares the motion CARRIED.

SEN. BEYER will lead discussion on the floor.

030

Chair Prozanski

Closes work session on HB 2718 and opens work session on HB 2294.

HB 2294 – WORK SESSION

032

Anna Braun

Committee Administrator.  Provides an overview of HB 2294.

034

Sen. Beyer

MOTION:  Moves HB 2294 to the floor with a DO PASS recommendation.

 

 

VOTE:  4-0-1

EXCUSED:  1 - Burdick

 

Chair Prozanski

Hearing no objection, declares the motion CARRIED.

SEN. RINGO will lead discussion on the floor.

039

Chair Prozanski

Closes work session on HB 2294 and opens work session on HB 2126.

HB 2126 – WORK SESSION

042

Anna Braun

Committee Administrator.  Provides an overview of HB 2126.

045

Chair Prozanski

Comments on the public hearings for HB 2126.

048

Sen. Beyer

MOTION:  Moves HB 2126 to the floor with a DO PASS recommendation.

 

 

VOTE:  4-0-1

EXCUSED:  1 - Burdick

 

Chair Prozanski

Hearing no objection, declares the motion CARRIED.

SEN. WHITSETT will lead discussion on the floor.

053

Chair Prozanski

Closes work session on HB 2126 and opens work session on HB 2125.

HB 2125 – WORK SESSION

055

Anna Braun

Committee Administrator.  Provides an overview of HB 2125.

057

Sen. Beyer

MOTION:  Moves HB 2125 to the floor with a DO PASS recommendation.

 

 

VOTE:  4-0-1

EXCUSED:  1 - Burdick

 

Chair Prozanski

Hearing no objection, declares the motion CARRIED.

SEN. BURDICK will lead discussion on the floor.

060

Chair Prozanski

Closes work session on HB 2125 and opens public hearing on SB 446.

SB 446 – PUBLIC HEARING

062

Anna Braun

Committee Administrator.  Provides an overview of SB 446.  Introduces the -2 amendments (EXHIBIT A), -3 amendments (EXHIBIT B), -4 amendments (EXHIBIT C), -5 amendments (EXHIBIT D), -6 amendments (EXHIBIT E) and -7 amendments (EXHIBIT F) to SB 446.

080

Chair Prozanski

Comments on testimony for SB 446.  

090

Peter Bernardo

Oregon Medical Association (OMA).  General Surgeon, Salem, Oregon.  Testifies in support of SB 446.  Discusses the background of medical malpractice liability insurance in Oregon.

150

Bernardo

Continues testimony.

225

Bernardo

Discusses personal experience regarding the cost of medical malpractice insurance.

245

Monica Wehby

OMA.  Pediatric Neurosurgeon, Portland, Oregon.  Testifies in support of SB 446.  Relates anecdote regarding a child needing medical attention by a pediatric neurosurgeon. Discusses the high costs of medical malpractice liability insurance in Oregon.

340

Wehby

Continues testimony. Provides statistics on neurosurgeons in Oregon.

TAPE 65, A

005

John Moorhead

Immediate Past President, OMA.  Emergency Physician, Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU).  Discusses and submits written testimony in support of SB 446 (EXHIBIT G).  

070

Sen. Bates

Thanks the witnesses and commends them for their efforts.

078

Sen. Ringo

Comments that it is an important goal to make physician’s premiums more affordable, but it cannot be the only goal as they need to respect access to the justice system and work toward patient safety.  Discusses efforts of the work group for SB 446.

110

Bernardo

Responds that the Oregon Medical Association worked in 2003 to pass a patient safety act.  States that Oregon is one of two states in the United States that does not have caps on damages for tort claims.  Discusses concern of lawsuits.

130

Sen. Ringo

Comments that he understands the witnesses’ position.

135

Chair Prozanski

Discusses knowledge of other states in a liability and health crisis.  Asks Bernardo and Wehby regarding their insurance coverage.

180

Bernardo

States that most physicians do not have excess coverage. States that his policy covers up to $1 million per occurrence, $3 million per year.  

190

Wehby

States that she originally had up to $5 million per occurrence, $5 million per year, but now has up to $1 million per occurrence, $3 million per year, and cannot get any more coverage.

215

Bernardo

Interjects that their concerns are regarding the cost of premiums and the potential of exceeding their amount of coverage.

233

Moorhead

Comments that we need to be careful when looking at other states.

253

Bernardo

Comments in response to Moorhead’s comments.

256

Wehby

Discusses tort reform and pre-litigation screening.

272

Chair Prozanski

Remarks that a friend of his, who is a neurosurgeon, left Oregon and has now come back, but he does not know why.

278

Bernardo

Comments that many neurosurgeons in Oregon have taken intracranial work out of their scope of practice to limit their risk.

280

Wehby

Remarks that insurance companies will typically lower the rates by 30% if neurosurgeons drop their intracranial work.

284

Sen. Bates

Comments on the shortage of physicians in Oregon.  Comments that Oregon is also low on Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements in addition to high costs of medical malpractice insurance. Discusses the shortage of neurosurgeons in Medford, Oregon.

323

Chair Prozanski

Comments on reimbursement rates for Medicare and Medicaid.

355

Bill Gallagher

Orthopedic Surgeon, Salem, Oregon.  President and Chairman, Northwest Physicians Mutual Insurance Company.  Testifies regarding SB 446.

TAPE 64, B

022

Scott Gallant

Director, Government Affairs, OMA.  Discusses and submits an informational packet in support of SB 446 (EXHIBIT H).

115

Gallant

Concludes testimony.

130

Mike Crew

Attorney, Oregon Medical Association.  Discusses and submits an informational packet in support of SB 446 (EXHIBIT I).  Discusses the -4 and -6 amendments to SB 446.

145

Chair Prozanski

Asks Crew for clarification regarding the documents he submitted.

151

Crew

Responds.

154

Crew

Continues testimony.  Discusses the -4 amendments to SB 446.

265

Crew

Discusses the -6 amendments to SB 446.

335

Crew

Concludes testimony.

385

Chair Prozanski

Asks Gallagher about the procedures of insurance payouts.

405

Gallagher

Discusses procedures.  Comments that all claims are looked at by the claims committee. Comments that they also look at claim history.   

TAPE 65, B

018

Chair Prozanski

Asks for Gallant to comment on his knowledge of claims.

023

Gallagher

Discusses claims against doctors.  

030

Gallant

Responds to Chair Prozanski.  Discusses the lawsuits and claims against doctors. 

085

Crew

Interjects that the -6 amendments exclude cases involving gross negligence or intentional conduct by a physician.

090

Chair Prozanski

Asks Crew about Maine’s system.  

095

Crew

Responds.

099

Chair Prozanski

Asks for clarification on Moorhead’s comments regarding trials in Maine.

103

Crew

Defers to Gallant.

105

Gallant

Comments that Moorhead was speaking of two cases where the jury overturned the recommendation of the panel.

110

Gallagher

Provides statistics regarding Maine.

117

Crew

States that in 21 cases of unanimous panel verdicts in Maine, 2 were won by the plaintiff and 19 by the defense.  Comments that only unanimous decisions are admissible in Maine.   

122

Sen. Bates

Comments on Maine’s procedures.   

137

Crew

Remarks that the -6 amendments state specifically what the court can tell the jury.

150

Mic Alexander

Oregon Trial Lawyers Association.  States that he participated in the work group on SB 446.  States desire for further amendments to SB 446. Remarks that he does not see the high medical malpractice liability insurance rates as a problem of the tort system, but rather the insurance system.

250

Alexander

Continues testimony. Discusses potential effects of a statewide professional liability fund in Oregon.

300

Whitsett

Asks Alexander’s opinion of insurance rates.

303

Alexander

Responds.

317

Whitsett

Comments on the individuals affected by the high medical malpractice liability insurance rates.

340

Alexander

Responds.

365

Sen. Beyer

States that Alexander misspoke when he said that the social insurance program is funded by the taxpayers.  States that the program is funded by employers.

373

Alexander

States that he considers employers as taxpayers.  Comments that he did not know the details of how the program works.  

380

Alexander

Continues testimony. 

TAPE 66, A

025

Alexander

Concludes testimony. 

035

Sen. Whitsett

Comments that he thinks that the liability cap is the problem, not the insurance rates. 

040

Sen. Bates

Thanks Alexander for his testimony and his efforts in the work group for SB 446.

047

Alexander

Comments on the work group for SB 446.

050

Sen. Bates

Asks Chair Prozanski to look at the rates of medical malpractice liability insurance and ask the insurance industry for their comments.

056

Chair Prozanski

Discusses plans with SB 446.  Comments on the history of caps in Oregon.

080

Sen. Beyer

Comments that the state was in crisis until 1988, and fell back into crisis after the caps were removed.

084

Chair Prozanski

States that there are other economic cycles involved in what Sen. Beyer is speaking of.

095

Bruce Miller

Assistant Staff Counsel, Office of the State Court Administrator. Testifies regarding SB 446. Discusses Maine’s system.  

135

Chair Prozanski

Asks if Miller has looked at the fiscal impact of SB 446.

138

Miller

States he does not have a complete idea of the fiscal impact because he has not reviewed the amendments.

145

Sen. Beyer

Comments on Oregon’s Hearing Officer Panel.

150

Chair Prozanski

Closes the public hearing on SB 446. Adjourns the meeting at 5:15 p.m.

 


 

EXHIBIT SUMMARY

 

  1. SB 446, -2 amendments, staff, 12 pp
  2. SB 446, -3 amendments, staff, 15 pp
  3. SB 446, -4 amendments, staff, 19 pp
  4. SB 446, -5 amendments, staff, 2 pp
  5. SB 446, -6 amendments, staff, 10 pp
  6. SB 446, -7, amendments, staff, 2 pp
  7. SB 446, written testimony, John Moorhead, 3 pp
  8. SB 446, informational packet, Scott Gallant, 37 pp
  9. SB 446, informational packet, Mike Crew, 16 pp