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Email sent to Oklahoma Representative

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I must confess one thing. When issues hit at the heart of something I do or know, I tend to be quite opinionated. After years of watching republican representatives and senators blatantly lie to the Oklahoma public, I have decided to become more vociferous on the issue of tort reform. Now before I share an email I sent to a state representative, I think you should understand that in my personal beliefs I’m quite conservative. With that said, I have great respect for our country and constitution and the ability for differing opinions to be stated. However, that does not give politicians the right to impart false views unto the constituents. Rather, they should be listening to what their constituents want. Therefore, I share the following email with you that I sent to Jason Murphey who is a state representative and promotes tort reform on his website. I haven’t recieved a response and doubt I do considering I’m right and what he says on his website is wrong. Take the jump to see my email.

Mr. Murphey:

As a concerned citizen and conservative in every sense of the word, I have been writing those promoting tort reform, whether through press releases or as you do on your website. I can assure you that I’m a concerned Oklahoma Republican who is fearful at the direction our party’s leadership is taking us. As a voter, my question is what basis you think we need tort reform.

Your website proclaims that “tort reform is a vital action that will curb abuse and the exploitation of our civil liability system. This problem has reached crisis proportions, costing more than consumers, taxpayers, businesses, local and state budgets can afford. From insurance rates to medical service many areas of our lives are affected by this abuse. The savings to the average Oklahoman of true TORT reform would be significant and would be a draw for new businesses to move to Oklahoma”

Could you please cite how exploitation of our civil liability system is occurring and this has reached crisis proportions. Further, how is this costing Oklahoman’s more than they can afford? Last but not least I’m always seeking empirical factual evidence rather than anecdotal statements.

So far, no one has provided me with any response of merit other than the typical politician speak. From my own findings, I have discovered that tort reform does nothing more than short everyday Oklahomans of their ability to have access to the courthouse. For instance, I have found that “according to the Federation of Medical Boards, Oklahoma moved to 4th per capita for number of doctors in 2005. This is up from 6th per capita in 2005. PLICO, which insures most Oklahoma doctors, states that “We’re doing fine said Carl T. Hook, M.D., President of PLICO. The first six months of this year we have a net income of 21 Million, which will be applied to the company’s reserves. Carl T. Hook, M.D., Journal Record, July 26th, 2005. “Over the last year or so, Hook said he has seen a trend toward more reasonable jury awards, which he attributed to the public education provided by extensive media coverage of lawsuit reform issues. Carl T. Hook, M.D., Journal Record, July 26th, 2005.” “By the end of 2005, PLICO had actually seen a 36% reduction from the previous two years in defense and settlement cost. This allowed PLICO to outperform projected expectations by 39%.” “In December 31, 2005, PLICO had the lowest number of open claims since the early to mid 1980s.” Darrin McKelvey, Director of Marketing at PLICO, PLICO Newsletter, 1st Quarter, 2006. “The average loss payments per case fell 49% from 2003 to 2005. The pending number of claims has also been significantly reduced from 2004 to 2005 by 35%.” Sam Glover, Esquire and Assistant Claims Manager at PLICO. PLICO Newsletter, 4th Quarter, 2005. In its Rate Survey issue, October, 2006, Medical Liability Monitor found that Oklahoma still has lower medical malpractice rates than Missouri, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado and Texas. Medical Liability Monitor, October 2006, Vol. 31, No. 10. In 2006, PLICO did not raise its rates and the other two carriers dropped their rates on some coverages and on others had a modest increase (one in which still put them as lower than the other two providers.) Medical Liability Monitor, Rate Survey Issue, October 2006, Vol. 31, No 10.”

Then nationally I have found that caps on non-economic damages will not lower malpractice premiums for doctors who are the highest wage earners in Oklahoma. The two largest insurers of doctors in the country stated before Congress or state legislatures, there is no correlation between caps and rates; rates will not go down. The Congressional Budget Office, General Accounting Office, Columbia University, University of Texas, and the University of Illinois studied caps and their effect on rates and all concluded there is no correlation. Over the past 10 years, malpractice rates rose 12 percent higher in states with caps than without. Insurers have deceived doctors into believing tort reform will provide relief. The truth is: insurance companies are using litigation as an excuse to raise rates. Litigation impacts their rates by less than 2 percent. Where does the money go? AIG, one of the two largest malpractice insurers, raised rates 60 percent in the last three years. In the first two years, its profits went from $326 million to $1.84 billion. The third year, they rose to $10 billion. The Wall Street Journal stated mismanaged pricing and accounting practices are the reason for malpractice premium increases, not claims. Claims actually decreased 1 percent over the last 10 years. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the highest paying occupations in America are doctors. The highest percentage of gross pay for malpractice coverage is 12.4 percent. The lowest is 1.8 percent.”

From the above, I found that tort reform won’t help doctors. The evidence is there from 30 states. Doctors and the public have been misled. Are you to engage in this deception or be honest with your constituents? I would hope you could see past big donors and lobbyist and seek the truth. We need true conservatives to take a stand for everyday Oklahomans and get past false and misleading ideologies.