Saying that women in the city face a health crisis because it’s getting harder for them to find insurance, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) on Tuesday released a five-point plan to improve their access to care.
Crowley, who is running for the Democratic nomination for the 6th Congressional District against three opponents [see separate stories], says too many women are not seeking preventative and prenatal care due to, respectively, a lack of insurance and the number of obstetricians and gynecologists who have left the city.
She proposes the following:
1.Disclosure and early offer programs — Doctors and patients agree that prompt and candid disclosure of errors with offers of reasonable compensation would address the two reasons patients file lawsuits: the need for compensation and anger due to lack of candor about errors. Resolving cases early reduces litigation costs and saves families the stress often caused by a trial.
2. Health courts — An administrative tribunal would use independent medical experts and established guidelines on preventable injuries to make faster, more consistent compensation decisions. Just as veterans’ courts use industry-specific knowledge about substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder to issue more appropriate sentences to veterans, medical liability courts would provide more informed rulings.
3. Schedule of damages — A series of dollar ranges that vary with severity of malpractice would give juries the ability to determine the proper compensation. This delivers the benefits of caps on noneconomic damages, without denying victims of malpractice compensation they are entitled to.
4. Tax incentives — To bring more doctors into underserved areas, the government can lower the overhead cost for women’s health practitioners. Doctors in high-risk specialties (obstetrics, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, radiology, etc.) should receive incentives to practice in federally designated “Health Care Professional Shortage Areas” (85 are in Queens) in the form of tax credits and subsidized facility rental fees.
5. Strengthen the Office of Professional Medical Conduct — A 2007 Public Citizen’s Report revealed that only 4 percent of physicians in New York State are responsible for nearly half of all dollars paid for malpractice claims since 1991. However, less than 11 percent of those physicians received licensure actions. The OPMC standard for license removal should be stricter.