October 31, 2017
On Oct. 30, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd issued an opinion declaring Kentucky’s medical review panel law unconstitutional. The Kentucky Medical Association (KMA) filed a brief with the court supporting the constitutionality of the law, as did many other organizations that share a desire to implement meaningful tort reform in Kentucky. While KMA certainly hoped for a different outcome at this stage of the court process, it should be stressed that opinions and appeals at more than one level were always contemplated and expected.
The Kentucky General Assembly passed the medical review panel legislation earlier this year after a careful and methodical process designed to ensure that the law passed constitutional muster. Given the amount of time and effort that went into drafting the legislation, with a desire to ensure the law was constitutional, the KMA believes that it will ultimately be upheld on appeal.
Kentucky is surrounded by states that have already passed tort reform, which gives them advantages over the Commonwealth. States with tort reform are friendlier places to practice medicine at a time that there is a shortage of physicians nationwide. Tort reform also reduces the cost of defensive medicine, which allows states with tort reform to hold down medical expenses for consumers as out-of-pocket costs are rising. Without tort reform, Kentucky will remain a state that continues to fall behind in health care, and makes our entire health care system more costly for the people of the Commonwealth.
For these reasons, KMA is committed to defending the constitutionality of the medical review panel law and is very hopeful that the court system will agree with the legislature. KMA will also advocate for other forms of tort reform in the 2018 General Assembly. Ultimately, tort reform will make Kentucky’s health care system more efficient and affordable for everyone.