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State Medical Malpractice Caps Under Fire

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, April 28, 2014

Florida's high court invalidated the law and ruled that it violated the equal protection clause of the state constitution. The majority ruling also challenged the validity of the purported medical malpractice crisis that supposedly prompted the law in the early 2000s and said the crisis was "not fully supported by available data."

Instead, the court majority wrote that the effect of the law was to enrich insurance companies at the expense of plaintiffs and that the malpractice caps had done "virtually nothing" to stabilizing malpractice premiums for physicians and other providers.

Astronomical Income Increases for Insurers
Citing testimony brought forward by committees in the Florida Legislature, the high court said that "it is estimated that the Florida medical malpractice line of business standing alone generated a… return on surplus of 14% in 2012… This represents the ninth consecutive year of profitability."

The court went on to say that "The profits would probably shock most concerned. Indeed between the years of 2003 and 2010, four insurance companies that offered medical malpractice insurance in Florida cumulatively reported an increase in their net income of more than 4300 percent."

Levin says many states that passed malpractice caps a decade ago should expect to see new judicial review because they aren't passing constitutional muster, and they aren't delivering on what they advertised.

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1 comments on "State Medical Malpractice Caps Under Fire"


john winninger (4/28/2014 at 10:35 AM)
While malpractice caps have brought down insurance rates for physicians, what they don't do is change practice behavior. Physicians don't do less testing because they are not longer afraid of malpractice suits. The right has been selling this as the way to reduce healthcare costs, but in state after state with caps, we see no evidence at all of physicians changing behavior. Why? Because physicians do extra testing for so many more influential reasons: patients think more testing is better medicine, physicians learn that extra testing is standard of care, physician's get paid more if they own the machines that do the tests, etc etc etc.