Miami Herald Editorial: Wrong Culprit For Health Care Costs
I read with astonishment the May 6 article about the next Jackson Memorial Hospital CEO’s pay rising to between $400,000 to $600,000 per year from the current $325,000 plus benefits. The public is told that hospitals in Florida, including JMH, are threatened by lawsuits and that doctors and some hospitals cannot afford to purchase liability insurance.Since July 1974, JMH has been able to hide behind Florida Statute 768.28, which states: “Neither the state nor its agencies or subdivision shall be liable to pay a claim or a judgment by any person which exceeds the sum of $100,000.” The same statute disallows any claim for punitive damages, regardless of the conduct. There has been no adjustment for inflation in this statute since 1974.The article about the CEO’s pay raise says that the increase of about 100 percent looks large, but that the CEO salary hasn’t changed since 1997. Further, at $325,000 – plus benefits of about $40,000 a year – it was on the low end of compensation of large public teaching hospitals.
It’s hard to believe that lawyers are blamed for all the financial woes of healthcare when CEOs can earn in excess of $500,000 and victims can recover only $100,000 for being killed or maimed from malpractice. Yet there are strong forces trying to extend immunities to doctors and hospitals and further close the courthouse door to victims of medical malpractice.