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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - March 5, 1985, New Braunfels, Texas New Braunfels Herald-Ze/funy Tuesday, March 5,1985 Kilpatrick discusses the cost of medical malpractice costs to consumers, see below JAMES KILPATRICK pinions H*rald-Zfitun$ Dave Kraacr, General Manager Robert Johnson, EditorJames KilpatrickAMA wants to save consumers from costs In Florida, one-fourth of the state’s obstetricians have stopped delivering babies. In California, the average award in a malpractice suit has climbed to $650,000. In every state, doctors are practicing “defensive medicine” at staggering cost to the nation’s bill for medical care. Something in this situation has to give, and it has to give soon. The American Medical Association (AMA) will be taking the offensive this year in a campaign for relief from a burden that the profession finds almost unbearable. Part of the campaign will be educational. Part will be legislative. The AMA makes a good case. The problem, in its simplest terms, is that in recent years malpractice judgements have soared beyond the reach of malpractice insurance. Until 1930 there wasn’t much of a problem, but as drugs became more potent and technology burgeoned, lawsuits began to multiply. Even so, the costs of medical claims remained manageable until about 15 years ago. Then jury verdicts began to take off. In 1975, the midpoint of verdicts against physicians was $48,500; the average was $95,000. In 1983-84, the midpoint verdict was $200,600 and the average was $338,000. For injuries to newborns, the midpoint verdict in 1984 was $1,452,000. The figures from California are instructive. In 1976, when litigation peaked, 226 malpractice suits went to trial. The defendant doctors won 74 percent of the cases, but juries still awarded $9.6 million in damages to 58 plaintiffs. The average award was $166,600. In 1983, doctors won 68 percent of the 15 suits that went to trial, but jury verdicts from 49 plaintiffs came to nearly $32 million — an average of $649,000. Nine of the awards in California were for more than a million dollars. The trend has forced many old-line insurance companies to stop writing malpractice insurance altogether. Doctors have formed their own companies, but they too have been compelled to charge almost prohibitive premiums. Between 1977 and 1983, premiums for medical professional liability rose from $1.2 billion to $1.6 billion, but losses in 1983 amounted to $2 billion. The hidden costs of the situation are more difficult to estimate. A task force of the AMA believes that “defensive medicine” may add from $15 billion to $40 billion a year to the costs of medical care. Doctors will order diagnostic tests and take other measures not because these measures are necessary, but because they may provide a defense later on. One study indicated that fully 25 percent of a doctor’s bill may represent defensive costs. The AMA plans a vigorous public relations campaign to remind consumers that in one way or another they foot the cost of all this. The AMA also will be lobbying hard in state legislature for changes in the rules that govern malpractice litigation.Comte CHERNENKO IS FINE,,, HE JUSTNESS TOBE WATERED ANO REPOTTEP, One change that makes sense — 18 states already have adopted it — would permit or require periodic payments to successful plaintiffs. Such payments are less costly to finance, and they assure that income will be available to the injured person over a period of years. The AMA will be lobbying Congress too, but the association’s ideas on federal legislation appear not to have jelled. The general idea is for the federal government to provide unspecified “incentives’’ to the states to adopt the kind of laws the AMA would like to see on the books. In point of fact the states have not been idle. With the sole exception of West Virginia, every state has acted in this field. In nine states, parts of their programs have been found unconstitutional, but such states as California, Florida, Indiana, Delaware, Louisiana and Nebraska have enacted comprehensive programs intended to keep malpractice costs within reasonable limits. Federal legislation may be the wrong medicine for this ailment, but the problem manifestly demands attention. Doctors do make mistakes — sometimes terrible mistakes — and the victims of their negligence deserve compensation. All the same, many of these jury awards bear no rational relationship to the injuries suffered, and the unwarranted verdicts drive up the cost of medical care for everyone else.Your representatives Gov. Mark White Governor's Office Room 200 State Capitol Austin, Texas 78701 Sen. John Traeger Texas Senate Capitol Station Austin, Texas, 78711 Sen. Lloyd Bentsen United States Senate Room 240 Russell Bldg Washington. D C. 20510 Sen. Phil Gramm United States Senate Washington D.C., 20510 Rep. Edmund Kuempel Texas House of Representatives P.O. Box 2910 Austin. Texas 78769 Rep. Mac Sweeney (Guadalupe County) U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C.. 20515 Rep. Tom Loeffler U.S. House of Representatives 1212 Longworth House Office Bldg Washington, D.C. 20515Jack AndersonGovernment finds evidence of Soviet biological warfare WASHINGTON — In past columns I’ve reported on the threat posed by the Soviet Union’s persistent efforts to develop new and ever-grislier biological weapons. Now I have even more frightening evidence obtained from the most secret documents. “The intelligence evidence indicates that the Soviets have maintained an offensive biological warfare program and capability since the (1971) Biological Weapons Convention,” one CIA report states. Though the Soviets signed the resulting treaty, they have consistently violated it — and just as consistently lied about their violations. But the CIA has managed to penetrate the Kremlin’s best efforts to cover its tracks on germ warfare testing a production. CIA sources told my associate Dale Van Atta the agency’s experts on Soviet military organization have been able to identify the unit responsible for all aspects of the Soviet program. This “covert administrative and organizational apparatus” is hidden deep inside the Ministry of Defense and is called the “Seventh Main Directorate.” In fact, a separate division of the Microbiological Industry Organization — a supposedly civilian agency — was created by 1976 to help the directorate in its deadly work. Hie division, headed by a general, includes heavily guarded, military-sponsored facilities for the development and storage (rf small quantities of microorganisms until they are needed for rapid, large-scale production of germ-war agents. The CIA has also identified nine locations where the Soviets carry on their program. The two primary sites - and the ones that have been confirmed beyond question as biological-weapons facilities • are at Sverdlovsk and Zagorsk. Sverdlovsk, the Siberian city known as Ekaterinburg in 1918 when the Bolsheviks shot Czar Nicholas II and his family there, was the scene of a biological weapons plant accident that killed anywhere from 200 to 1,000 people in April 1979. The Zagorsk facility masquerades under the title of Scientific Research Institute of Sanitation. Not far from Moscow, Zagorsk is where the germ weapons boss, Gen. V.I. Ogarkov, spends much of his time. Both plants were completed in 1968, with new construction continuing through last year. Both are known to be under military control, and a secret National Security Council report states that “of particular interest at Sverdlovsk and Zagorsk are highly secure special storage areas which are designed for weapons assembly and storage.” Despite their obvious military significance, the situation at Sverdlovsk and Zagorsk is somewhat confused — and perhaps as a deliberate cover — by the fact that portions of the two facilities are engaged in legitimate research and production connected with the medical-pharmaceutical, agricultural and food processing industries. The third most important biological-weapons facility, at Berdsk in Siberia, was completed in 1970, with further construction in 1984. The CIA’s evidence indicates that the Berdsk plant is a backup for production and a storage facility. A new molecular biological institute, linked to Berdsk and genetic-engineering projects, has been identified at Koltaovo. The Kennedy case It was more than 21 years ago that John F. Kennedy was gunned down in Dallas, but facts about the assassination keep floating to the surface like flotsam from some long-sunken ship. Recently, some fascinating fragments have turned up in an unnoticed federal appeals court filing by Harold Weisberg. The indefatigable, 71-year-old former newsman has been trying for years to force a reluctant Justice Department to come clean on the JFR murder. Long-secret FBI documents pried out by Weisberg and other investigators provide these tantalizing tidbits on the assassination, the alleged killer and the tragedy’s aftermath: — Lee Harvey Oswald, the “loner” generally accepted as Kennedy’s single assassin, once told an FBI agent he had been “contacted” by the Soviet secret police -presumably during the period he lived in Russia. But the FBI, incredibly, never laked Oswald what the contact consisted of. Weisberg believes Oswald was lying: The truth may never be known. — An FBI agent aaid Oswald at one time was either an “informant or source” for the bureau and knowingly provided Information to the FBI in Dallas. What he told (ha G-men Is not known. .yr/ HOW'S IT r GOING, E STEVE7 WHAT ARE    WELL, I HAP BUTI iou Dom    got talkep into HERE,/HAN71 THAT AU. STRA LM THOUGHT VOOV FOR AFRICA'REC-RET IRET?1 USA FOR AFRICA? GEE, I PONT KNOW, QUINCY I'M SHU SORT OF RET/REP. WHO AU ARE YOU ASKING7 WEIL .SO FAR WE'VE GOT LIONEL RICHIE, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, BOO PYLAN: f TOU PIP THATGIG ? VFJ1N WW MAN, SEEMS UKE StwnSu EVERT OU?ROCKER    qnES,1W IN AMERICA SHOWE!? UP KR THAT SESSIONS I .. MICHAEL JACKSON\ RAY CHARLES. STEVIE WOHLER, BETTE MIPLER, PIANA ROSS, BILLY JOEL, PAUL SPHON, KENNY ROGERS, UHLUE NELSON, TINA TURNER. SMOKEY ROBINSON ANO    f DIONNE WARWICK ^ ^ 1 ;