Bankruptcy

I haven’t been keeping up with this issue, but now it looks like the proposed bankruptcy reform legislation is going to go through. Here’s the part I found most interesting:

Forbes.com: Bankruptcy Bill Passes In The Senate…The most significant section of the legislation makes it more difficult for individuals to file for bankruptcy under the more lenient Chapter 7 of the bankruptcy code. Currently, about 70% of personal bankruptcies are filed under Chapter 7.

Under Chapter 7, individuals essentially wipe out most unsecured debt (save for alimony, child support, student loans and tax obligations), after making a fair distribution to creditors of whatever non-exempt property the debtor has. The most significant exemption is for protecting a debtor’s primary residence; the specific rules that apply to any debtor’s situation vary from state to state. Chapter 7 allows the individual debtor to make a fresh financial start through the discharge of his or her existing financial obligations in bankruptcy.

The legislation establishes a needs-based system for qualifying for Chapter 7 treatment. In particular, the bill requires any individual with an annual income higher than the median in his state of residence and with an ability to pay at least $6,000 over five years ($100 per month), to file for bankruptcy under the less forgiving provisions of Chapter 13. Such a filing would mandate a court-sanctioned repayment plan for existing debts (including medical costs and credit card payments). Critics contend that the revised system will make it more difficult for individuals to get the fresh financial start that bankruptcy protection is supposed to facilitate.

Those seeking bankruptcy protection would be required to participate in credit counselling (at their expense) for six months prior to making a bankruptcy filing.

Florida, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota and Texas have unlimited homestead exemptions that allow anyone, including the affluent, to file for bankruptcy and shelter a primary residence, regardless of its value, from creditors. The Senate bill now limits this homestead exemption to $125,000 if the person in bankruptcy bought the residence less than three years and four months before filing for bankruptcy. Homes purchased prior to that cut-off would still qualify for the full exemption allowed in that particular state.

I wonder how ‘medical costs’ got added to the list of things that have to be paid off? This should cause the false medical bills cause bankruptcy meme to regenerate quickly.

Also, the credit card companies will now decrease their interest rates, right?

Credit card companies? Anyone? Bueller?

Acronym Testing

I’m trying out a little MT plugin that should make my life easier, by automagically adding the explanations for medical acronyms. This is take 2 for those of you reloading every 3 minutes.

PID
GOMER

(PID)

MI, CHF, COPD
ACLS

I’m just testing various formats. Sorry to have to do this ‘live’ but I have no choice.

For those who try this plugin, I’m modifying the acronym database using Word. Seems like overkill, but it works.

OK, enough with the tryouts. It works! Now all I have to do is make an acronym entry for every medical acronym I know. Yikes.

ACLS, IDDM, EOA

Can’t leave it alone. Sorry.

Update: the acronym plugin was interfering with my future posting, so it’s outta here. That’s why the acronymys don’t work, sorry.

Texas MedMal in the News

Well, what to believe. A couple of days ago an analysis of Texas Medmal verdicts was released, finding basically that Texas had no crisis of skyrocketing Medmal verdicts. That this goes against the conventional wisdom in my field is a given. Symtym has quotes from several of the Usual Suspects. Reflecting my skepticism with an eloquence I lack, Ted Frank at PointofLaw has questions for the authors, and points out some fairly basic flaws in the paper.

Then, comes this news:

TMA Action

Citing the 2003 liability reforms and passage of Proposition 12, two more professional liability insurers announced last month they plan to cut their rates.

Physicians who hold policies written by The Doctors Co. should see an average 14-percent drop in premiums. The company has asked the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) to approve its plan to give rate reductions of up to 30 percent to most of its 1,100 customers in Texas. The change would be for new policyholders effective April 1 and for renewing policyholders effective June 1.

American Physicians Insurance Exchange said it will cut rates for about 2,200 Texas physicians by an average of 5 percent.

The cuts are the latest reductions announced by insurers in the wake of the 2003 reforms. The Texas Medical Liability Trust (TMLT) has reduced its rates by 17 percent. TMLT President Tom Cotten called the reduction “indicative of the triumph of medical liability reform in Texas.”

OK, I’ll give you that 5-15% cuts aren’t terribly dramatic, and the days of $2000 coverage are gone forever. However, I know which of these I believe. If insurers are voluntarily lowering rates after a historic run-up, that tells me that medmal reform works to lower rates.

The real solution to this situation is for people to realize no-one is perfect and that accidents happen. I’m for actual victims of real malpractice being appropriately compensated. I’m against the current adversarial/lottery system, and I’m against medmal being used as disability insurance by patients with bad outcomes.