Friday, June 17, 2011

More Judge-directed mediation; this time in NYC

Judge-directed negotiation, is seen by President Obama's administration as offering states a way to curb liability expenses that have sharply increased health care costs nationally. Getting judges involved earlier, more often and much more actively in pushing for settlements, is touted as the crucial ingredient.

In New York, an expanding program started under a federal grant bypasses years of court battles, limiting legal costs while providing injured patients with compensation that is likely to be less than a jury would award but can be paid out years earlier, without lengthy appeals.

This article reports that malpractice costs have been at the center of the debate about health care expenses (and tort reform) for decades, with some states enacting legislation to limit awards. But the lawsuits have been difficult for judges to control, partly because the cases can go on with little judicial involvement for years, pushing up legal expenses and solidifying positions. The judges in this program keep 'em talking...