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Legislative Advocacy

At Rockwood Clinic, we feel it is important to address the critical issues in healthcare that affect us all. To encourage our patients and the community to be informed and get involved in the latest health care issues, we have provided summary information on several key health care topics:

Malpractice and Tort Reform

What is medical liability and tort reform?

Medical malpractice lawsuits are civil lawsuits that seek two types of damages:  economic damages for lost wages and medial bills, and non-economic damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and emotional distress.  Most efforts to reform the tort system place an emphasis on limiting non-economic damages, which are typically the most costly and the least objectively measured.

Why should I care?

Malpractice premiums for our clinic, (with an excellent claims history), continue to escalate and  are a  major expense every year.  Our malpractice carrier sets our rate annually, and because we cannot plan for this expense ahead of time, we struggle each year for ways to make up the cost difference. Options we have had to consider include consolidating or reducing staff and reducing hours and/or services in some areas. Nine of our family practice physicians stopped delivering babies for their patients as a direct result of insurance increases.  The Rockwood Clinic would, of course, rather use health care dollars to care for patients than to pay insurance premiums.

Washington State allows juries to assign unlimited awards in malpractice lawsuits. In other states a cap on non-economic damages has led to a stabilization of using malpractice premiums.

An out of control tort system has consequences. As professional liability premiums increase, physicians will leave the State of Washington and patients will lose access to their physicians.  Reforms we support do not, in any way, limit economic damages.

You can help. Contact your legislators. Tell them we need Tort Reform now.

Medicare Reimbursement

From 2006-2013, Medicare payments in Washington state will be cut by $1.72 billion. For Washington state physicians, the cuts will average $13,000 per year for each physician over this eight-year period.  These cuts result from an outdated and ineffective attempt to constrain increases in spending for physician payments.

Physician practices throughout the region, state and nation are also grappling with these Medicare cuts.  In a poll by the Washington State Medical Society, 57 percent of physicians indicated they were either closing their practices to new Medicare patients or were closing their practices entirely to Medicare patients because of the new reimbursement change. We are committed to care for our patients who are covered by medicare but are very worried that all providers may need to limit access and availability of medicare patients unless a more equitable and accurate system of physician reinforcement is developed by congress.

What can I do?

1. Educate yourself.

You can make a difference by educating yourself about the current issues facing the health care industry.

* Visit the Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) and the American Medical Association (AMA) Web sites and review news on current health care issues.

* The WSMA Web site also provides a report from the Medical-Education and Research Foundation on "Washington's Ailing Health Care System."

* Review legislative information provided by the Library of Congress on the Thomas Web site.

2. Write a letter.

You can help by writing your state and federal legislators and letting them know you are concerned and want changes related to Medicare.

* To contact your local state legislative representatives, look up their contact information on the Washington State Legislature Representative search page, or e-mail local legislators from our Web site.

* For your convenience, we have provided the e-mail addresses for local state legislative representatives. To get more detailed contact information, please visit the Washington State Legislature Web site.

WASHINGTON STATE GOVERNOR

Governor Jay Inslee
Office of the Governor
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002
Tel: (360) 902-4111
For relay operators for the deaf or hearing impaired, please dial 7-1-1
Or email the governor through the Web.

WASHINGTON STATE CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION

U.S. SENATE
Senator Patty Murray
Washington D.C. Office:
173 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 Phone: (202) 224-2621 Fax: (202) 224-0238
Spokane District Office:
601 West Main Ave. Suite 1213 Spokane, WA 99201 Phone: (509) 624-9515 Fax: (509) 624-9561
www.murray.senate.gov

Senator Maria Cantwell
Washington D.C. Office:
511 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 Phone: (202) 224-3441 Fax: (202) 228-0514
Spokane District Office:
U.S. Federal Courthouse W. 920 Riverside, Suite 697 Spokane, WA 99201 Phone: (509) 353-2507 Fax: (509) 353-2547
www.cantwell.senate.gov

U.S. HOUSE OF REPS.
Rep Cathy McMorris Rodgers
Washington D.C. Office:
1708 Longworth House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 Phone: 202-225-2006 Fax: 202-225-3392
Spokane District Office:
10 North Post, 6th Floor
Spokane, WA 99201
Phone: (509) 353-2374
Fax: (509) 353-2412
www.mcmorris.house.gov

WASHINGTON STATE LEGISLATORS FOR THE SPOKANE AREA

3rd Legislative District
Senator Lisa Brown (D)
Olympia Office:
307 Legislative Building
PO Box 40403
Olympia, WA 98504
Phone: (360) 786-7604
Fax: (360) 786-1999
http://www.leg.wa.gov/senate/senators/pages/brown.aspx

District Office:
35 W Main Ave Suite 375
Spokane, WA 99201
Phone: (509) 456-2760
Fax: (509) 835-3867

Rep. Andy Billig (D)
Olympia Office:
437B Legislative Building
PO Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504
Phone: (360) 786-7888
http://www.leg.wa.gov/house/representatives/pages/billig.aspx

District Office:
25 W Main Ave Suite 237
Spokane, WA 99201
Phone: (509) 209-2427

Rep. Timm Ormsby (D)
Olympia Office:
122F Legislative Building
PO Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504
Phone: (360) 786-7888
http://www.leg.wa.gov/house/representatives/pages/ormsby.aspx

District Office:
25 W. Main STE 237
Spokane, WA 99201
Phone: (509) 458-2122


6th Legislative District

Senator Michael Baumgartner (R)
Olympia Office:
201 Irv Newhouse Building
PO Box 40406
Olympia, WA 98504
Phone: (360) 786-7610
http://www.leg.wa.gov/senate/senators/pages/baumgartner.aspx

District Office:
901 N Monroe, Suite 222
Spokane, WA 99201
Phone: (509) 329-3740

Rep. Kevin Parker (R)
Olympia Office:
404 John L. O'Brien Building
PO Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504
Phone: (360) 786-7922
http://www.leg.wa.gov/house/representatives/pages/parker.aspx

District Office:
35 W. Main Suite 230 B
Spokane, WA 99201
Phone: (509) 458-2124

Rep. John Ahern (R)
Olympia Office:
122 E Legislative Building
PO Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504
Phone: (360) 786-7962
http://www.leg.wa.gov/house/representatives/pages/ahern.aspx

District Office:
8603 N Division St Suite B
Spokane, WA 99208
Phone: (509) 467-8980

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