KEMPAC: AMNews readers were misled on Senate candidate Dr. Mongiardo

LETTER — Posted Nov. 1, 2004

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The Oct. 11 AMNews (see article) portrayed F. Daniel Mongiardo, MD, a state senator from Kentucky and candidate for the U.S. Senate, as a physician inspired to run for office by politicians who aren't addressing the nation's health care woes. Unfortunately, his performance as a state legislator has done nothing to address Kentucky's health care problems, but a lot to keep plaintiffs attorneys in business.

Dr. Mongiardo won a state senate seat in 2000, largely with physician support. In 2003, Dr. Mongiardo cast a "pass" vote on a proposed constitutional amendment for medical liability reform, which had the same effect as a "no" vote. He did so about the same time AMA identified Kentucky as a state in crisis.

Justifying his lack of support, he claimed "caps on jury awards don't work," even though the bill, if passed, wouldn't have established a cap. It would have only allowed the people of Kentucky to vote on whether the General Assembly should have the authority to consider MICRA-type reforms.

A month later, Dr. Mongiardo publicly resigned his brief Kentucky Medical Association membership through a letter to the editor of the state's second-largest daily newspaper. In that letter, he condemned physician members of the KMA, its leadership and staff for their liability reform efforts.

Leading up to the 2004 legislative session, Dr. Mongiardo continued to claim, "Caps don't work" but he added, "medical errors are the root cause of the liability insurance crisis." Reflecting the position of the Kentucky Academy of Trial Attorneys, Dr. Mongiardo testified before legislative committees, appeared on television programs, participated on radio talk shows and conducted a traveling presentation about the impact of medical errors.

In the 2004 session, Dr. Mongiardo voted "no" on a proposal to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot. In doing so, he denied Kentucky voters a voice in this important issue, even though the state's largest newspaper conducted a poll that revealed 68% of Kentuckians support caps on damages in medical malpractice cases.

Dr. Mongiardo, in his interview with AMNews, was quoted as saying, "One of the problems in politics today is that politicians don't listen to the voters, to their constituents." Yet he has worked to defeat efforts to enact measures his constituents clearly support.

Few physicians outside of Kentucky are familiar with Dr. Mongiardo, whose U.S. Senate campaign is substantially financed by trial attorneys. It is important that the physicians of this country aren't misled on Dr. Mongiardo.

Andrew R. Pulito, MD, past chair, current board member, KEMPAC, Kentucky Educational Medical Political Action Committee

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/11/01/edlt1101.htm.

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