FL Lawsuit-immunity plan for Medicaid providers costly, report says

The Miami Herald, December 22, 2010

As governor-elect Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature consider giving doctors immunity against lawsuits in return for treating Medicaid patients, a new report warns that such an arrangement could cost taxpayers at least $69 million a year.

State Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who lost to Scott in November, commissioned the actuarial report last month after lawmakers indicated they are considering extending the state cap on legal liability, known as sovereign immunity, to Medicaid providers.

The report concludes that if legislators give state immunity to doctors and hospitals, ``the state basically takes the place of a doctor who commits a negligent act.'' When a patient sues, taxpayers would pick up the tab of any medical malpractice claim up to $300,000. The cost of defending and investigating an estimated 551 claims a year would cost Florida $69 million a year, the report claims.

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