Reasonable Costs of Medical Services In Alabama
Gideon v. Alabama State Ethics Comm'n, 379 So. 2d 570, 573-74 (Ala. 1980) case involves neither a "suspect class" nor a "fundamental right," so we apply the rational-basis test to the plaintiff's equal-protection challenge.
Thus, we must determine:
(a) whether the classification furthers a proper governmental purpose,
(b) whether the classification is rationally related to that purpose.
The Legislature, in 6-5-540, Ala. Code 1975, explicitly stated its purpose for enacting the Alabama Medical Liability Act:
"It is hereby declared by the Legislature of the State of Alabama that a crisis threatens the delivery of medical services to the people of Alabama and the health and safety of the citizens of this state are in jeopardy.
In accordance with the previous declaration of the legislature contained in Act 513 of the Regular Session of the 1975 Alabama Legislature it is the declared intent of this legislature to insure that quality medical services continue to be available at reasonable costs to the citizens of the State of Alabama.
This legislature finds and declares that the increasing threat of legal actions for alleged medical injury causes and contributes to an increase in health care costs and places a heavy burden upon those who can least afford such increases, and that the threat of such actions contributes to expensive medical procedures to be performed by physicians and other health care providers which otherwise would not be considered necessary, and that the spiraling costs and decreasing availability of essential medical services caused by the threat of such litigation constitutes a danger to the health and safety of the citizens of this state, and that this article should be given effect immediately to help control the spiraling cost of health care and to insure its continued availability."
We hold that the Legislature's stated purpose of "ensuring that quality medical services continue to be available at reasonable costs to the citizens of the State of Alabama" is a legitimate goal of state government.