AMA renews call for cap on malpractice awards

Monday, March 3, 2003

Representatives of the American Medical Association called again Monday for a nationwide cap on malpractice awards, saying that patients in 18 states are being denied crucial healthcare due to a liability insurance crisis.

"Ours system has evolved into a lawsuit lottery," said AMA President Dr. Yank D. Coble, Jr. "AMA believes patients that were hurt deserve to be compensated in full, but the run-away jury awards need to be stopped."
According to the AMA, $1 million-plus jury awards and skyrocketing liability insurance premiums are crippling the nation's healthcare system.
In June, the AMA said 12 states had reached crisis status, with patients being denied care and physicians giving up practice. They now say 18 states are in a similar situation.

At a press conference in Washington, the AMA said its latest analysis found that the crisis situation has now grown to include Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri and North Carolina. The AMA's previous list included Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and West Virginia.

But opponents of liability reform say that jury awards are not the core problem.

The real issue is the insurance industry, which has chosen to gouge doctors to make up for lost investment income, Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice Democracy, told Reuters Health.
"What we really need is better regulation of the insurance industry," Doroshow said.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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