Tuck Wants To Focus On Tort Reform Again - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

09/29/03

Tuck Wants To Focus On Tort Reform Again

Lt. Governor Amy Tuck supports more tort reform legislation, so Mississippi healthcare doesn't suffer. 

"I'm making a commitment to continue to go forward and make sure we have additional reforms in our civil justice system" she said. "Why? Because it's critical and it's essential to the future of healthcare in our state."

Barbara Blackmon's camp didn't want to respond to Tuck's tort reform announcement until it had more information about what was said.

The head of Garden Park Medical Center said last year's tort reform legislation helped a little bit. But there are still some major insurance concerns that could cripple local doctors.

Just ask Dr. Bill Kergosien. Garden Park's emergency room director treats all sorts of emergency patients. Back in late January, his ER nearly closed. Doctors were on strike, because of Mississippi's malpractice mess. The walkout ended a week later.

"Thank goodness there was a product available through the hospital," Dr. Kergosien said, "because I was dropped with one month's notice." According to Kergosien, "The system is on life support now. We're limping along."

Mississippi lawmakers spent 83 days in a special session before they hammered out a tort reform bill. Even though that legislation is now law, Mississippi doctors are still having a tough time getting insurance carriers to come to the state and cover their practices.

According to Garden Park Medical Center administrator Bill Peakes, "It hasn't helped enough to bring other insurance carriers into the state."

And that has made it tough on doctors like Dr. Don Gaddy.

"We're one lawsuit away from bankruptcy or closing the practice," he said

Dr. Gaddy isn't sure how much longer his insurance provider will cover his practice. He often walks between his office and Garden Park wondering if the insurance mess is worth the headache it causes.

"You know, I've asked myself that a lot in the last couple of years," he laughed. "I've taken a little different attitude than a lot of physicians. And that is, if I end up with no insurance, I'm going to continue to practice. And we'll just see what happens."

by Brad Kessie

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