To the editor:
A victory can be claimed by Kansas consumers of health care in Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' veto of the bill that would have exempted many medical providers in our state from being accountable for faulty practice under the state's Consumer Protection Act. This consumer protection, articulated clearly in a recent Kansas Supreme Court decision, is all many low- and moderate-income consumers of health care have to protect them from substandard health care in our state.
The governor was able to understand some basic math on this issue in ways that members of the state's provider associations couldn't: Namely, we have an estimated 44,000 deaths in our country each year due to medical error, that most recent data show that medical malpractice accounts for less than 1 percent of all health care costs, that less than 5 percent of physicians account for more than 50 percent of malpractice claims, and that our state Board of Healing Arts, like other comparable organizations around the country, does little to weed out its "bad apples" by lax policing of its own ranks of health care professionals in the state, showing fewer than 60 disciplinary actions for the more than 21,000 licensed providers in 2006.
Additional thanks to AARP, Kansas Advocates for Better Care, the Kansas Health Consumer Coalition and the state Independent Living Council for having the courage to speak out on this issue while keeping the needs of Kansas health consumers uppermost in what they do.
Michael Fox, Lawrence