WASHINGTON: This city's medical community is waging an aggressive campaign in support of legislation recently introduced by Mayor Anthony Williams that would limit awards in medical malpractice lawsuits.
The Medical Society of the District of Columbia has partnered with Ogilvy PR on a one-year, $250,000 campaign to raise awareness of high insurance premiums that the group says are forcing doctors to close their DC offices.
The Medical Society has never worked with a high-profile PR agency, said David Love, the group's communications director. "But this is just a critical issue and we decided this year we really needed to make this our number one focus," he explained.
So far, no member of the DC Council has come out in support of the legislation, which Williams introduced on July 27. "We know that September, October, early November is going to be the critical period," Love said. "We are now working very hard to educate ... everybody about the need for this."
With the nation's highest medical insurance premiums, DC has become a key battleground in the national debate on the issue.
America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) has launched its own campaign in the city - separate from the Medical Society's - to give medical liability reform a boost in Congress. The House on July 28 approved legislation that would limit awards in lawsuits for pain and suffering.
Meanwhile, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) said it will continue to educate members of the DC Council on why insurance reform, not medical liability reform, is the answer.
"It is rather amazing that the mayor of the nation's capital would stand up and introduce the propaganda campaign of the insurance industry," said Carlton Carl, VP for policy and strategy at ATLA.