A coalition of groups aligned with trial lawyers is denouncing a possible remedy to New York's medical malpractice insurance crisis: a state-sponsored indemnity fund that would pay the future medical bills of injured patients.
In a letter sent to Governor Paterson yesterday, the groups — including the Center for Justice & Democracy, the Center for Medical Consumers, and the New York Public Interest Research Group — criticized the proposal, which they said Governor Spitzer discussed with stakeholders before his resignation. The groups said the fund would relieve doctors, hospitals, and insurance carriers from paying for the future medical expenses of injured patients. Although the size of the fund was not immediately known, it would receive funding from the state's Medicaid program or another state funding mechanism.
"We think it's a crazy proposal, particularly these days when the budget deficit is such a problem in this state," the executive director of the Center for Justice & Democracy, Joanne Doroshow, said.
In the letter, the groups also expressed dismay at being excluded from recent discussions about changes to the medical malpractice system. In a separate letter to Governor Paterson, officials from Consumers Union echoed that concern, writing that the exclusion of some groups from recent discussions did not inspire "confidence that the consumer perspective is being taken seriously."
Groups that signed yesterday's letter said that intention prompted the communication to Mr. Paterson. "You have the budget coming up on April 1, so that was the driving force behind the letter," a spokesman for a coalition of 13 groups called CURE-NY, John Guyette, said. "Obviously, it would be problematic if taxpayers are subsidizing malpractice."
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