Bar News - October 19, 2012
Morning Mail: What Was Goal of Early Offer Bill?
By: Mark A. Abramson
These are my final thoughts in response to Representative Rowe's letter of September 21, 2012.
First, let me emphasize the fact that the hospitals have always had the right to make an early offer when they know a patient has been injured by their care and it is precisely because of their failure to do so that this problem exists. The solution is not to codify what is their responsibility to begin with, but to put pressure on the health industry to accept responsibility and act accordingly.
Representative Rowe states that the goal of this bill is to afford a remedy to those victims of medical malpractice whose cases are valued at under $250,000 and thus are unable to find counsel. However, everyone knows that this bill, in its original form, was the brain child of one man, the President of one of New Hampshire's community hospitals. It was initially not the product of a legislator.
So let's test that theory about the goal of this bill, since we know who actually proposed the legislation and who arranged for out of state witnesses to appear at the hearings in its support. Let me, as an aside, admit that I have enormous respect, both personally and professionally, for this particular hospital President, whose efforts have helped to make his hospital a good one.
However, to believe that the purpose of this bill is/was as stated, you have to believe that the following conversation took place between the President of the hospital and his Board of Trustees:
President: "Ladies and Gentlemen of the Board, I have been thinking about a new great idea for our patients"
Board (with excitement): "Please tell us"
President: "Well hang on to your seats, because you will love this. I am worried, in fact, deeply concerned that the countless victims of some really awful medical care here in New Hampshire, despite the irreparable harm we have all caused, just cannot sue us, because the damage we caused just isn't quite bad enough to allow a good New Hampshire lawyer to take us to the wood shed.
President: "So I am going to propose a new law, which I think I can get passed, that will allow countless new victims of our care to come forward and get us to pay lots of money we have never previously had to pay.
Board: Continued silence
President: "Great. I am on my way."
So do you believe that, or do you believe that this law was proposed to trap the unwary and legally unsophisticated victims of medical malpractice to surrender their million or multi-million dollar claims for 8 percent of their value without ever knowing what they have given up. You tell me.
Mark A. Abramson