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Ed Yeates ReportingAs of today, you do not have to agree to medical arbitration as a way to settle any future legal disputes if you don't want to. And medical groups can't refuse service if you don't sign such an agreement.
The Utah Citizens Alliance, AARP, Patients Against Mandatory Medical Arbitration, the AFL-CIO, and the Utah Trial Lawyers Association all banded together today to kick off an education campaign to tell people about the provisions in the new law.
Doug Mortensen, President, Utah Trial Lawyers Association: "Members of our coalition are concerned that this significant restoration of basic rights may go unnoticed."
That's their biggest concern, that patients now don't inadvertently sign an agreement along with all the other forms they sign for medical care.
Lisa Johnson, Utah Citizens Alliance: "The new law doesn't even require a provider to verbally explain arbitration or answer questions. In fact, the provider can bury the arbitration somewhere between the consent to treat form and the privacy statement."
Even though it's doubtful that will happen, if it does, the law now allows consumers to rescind the agreement within ten days. They can even rescind old agreements they made before the law went into effect. But in those cases the cancellation won't take effect for a year.
Coalition members were at various clinics today handing out brochures on arbitration. They were not allowed inside the building or on the property but could hand out information on the sidewalk.
While the coalition says medical arbitration instead of a court trial is simply a cop out for doctors who don't want to pay big settlements claims, groups in favor of arbitration says it's quicker and less expensive, fair to both parties, and arbitration will lower soaring medical malpractice insurance rates.
In any case, no matter what side you're on, you can now make the choice yourself. It's not mandatory one way or the other.