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State Medical Malpractice Caps Under Fire

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, April 28, 2014

"There are 19 states that have malpractice caps, and none of them have a provision in them that if the awards are capped at a certain number when the premiums are paid then the premiums will be reduced," he says.

"In fact, the opposite has been shown, that the premiums increase. And there is nothing in the statute that says when there has been a decrease and the insurance companies will reap the benefits of that they will pass the savings on to the doctors. That has not been done. They are not, in fact, paying lesser premiums."

Defense Attorneys See it Differently

Jeff Scott, general counsel for the Florida Medical Association, which filed an amicus brief supporting the caps, blasted the high court's ruling.

"We had documented the premium increases prior to 2003 and in many instances we were seeing triple-digit increases. It was a full-blown crisis. The rates were skyrocketing. Physicians were dropping their coverage because they couldn't afford it," he says.

"For the (FL) Supreme Court to question whether there was a medical malpractice crisis was absurd. They were either living under a rock in 2003 or just plain ignorant. I cannot fathom how they made that determination."

Scott says tort caps "absolutely" work. "One needs only look at the states that have an effective cap in place, such as California and Texas, to see that malpractice rates are lower and the movement of physicians to those states," he says.

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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.