OMA, Hospitals Seek Medical Malpractice Reform.

What will it take to achieve medical malpractice reform in our state?

Why doesn't the Oregon Legislature do more?

The answer is, it takes an amendment to the Oregon Constitution. The Legislature cannot, on its own, amend the Constitution. That requires a statewide vote of the people.

On September 25, 2003, four proposed Constitutional amendments were filed with the Oregon Secretary of State to achieve medical malpractice reform. A group called Oregonians for Quality, Affordable and Reliable Health Care, chaired by Peter Bernardo, M.D., a Salem surgeon, filed the measures. The Oregon Medical Association and the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems are behind the effort.

Two measures would cap personal injury attorney fees in medical liability lawsuits. The other two would limit non-economic damages to $500,000, but allow juries to decide economic damages. This same limit was in place until 1999 when the Oregon Supreme Court reversed it. The four proposed measures, which have slight differences, are now being reviewed by the State Attorney General, as required by law.

Will all four measures go on the ballot? No. Supporters are polling to determine which measure would have the best chance of passing in a statewide election. After the first of the year, the Oregonians for Quality, Affordable and Reliable Health Care will decide which measure to promote and will begin circulating petitions to put a measure on the statewide ballot in November 2004.

In 2000, Oregon voters turned down a tort reform measure by a vote of 219,009 ‘yes' to 630,348 ‘no.' The successful campaign against the measure, heavily financed by trial lawyers, featured a TV spot with Erin Brocovich.

What will be different this time around? First, the message will be crafted to emphasize the availability of essential physician services.

Second, Oregonians for Quality, Affordable and Reliable Health Care are conducting major fundraising so as not to be outspent this time.

To help raise $6 million for the campaign, the OMA is asking every Oregon physician to contribute $1,000. Contributions should be made to:

Oregonians for Qualify, Affordable and Reliable Health Care
c/o OMA, 5210 SW Corbett Avenue,
Portland OR 97239

Questions? Call OAO's lobbyists, Nan Heim or Gina Cole, 503-224-0007.


15740 Springbrook Court • Lake Oswego, OR 97034
Phone 503.635.6525