Doctors' president says system is broken

Bradenton Herald
Wednesday, January 29, 2003

The health care system is in a crisis that extends far beyond the need for tort reform, with many factors severely hindering doctors' ability to provide their patients with adequate care, the president-elect of the American Medical Association says.

"The medical liability system is broken," Dr. Donald J. Palmisano told the Herald on Tuesday. "We are losing our physicians.

"Professional liability rates have escalated to the point where physicians are retiring, limiting their practice or moving to another state with a more stable climate," Palmisano said. "Florida is one of the 12 crisis states where physicians cannot afford insurance or buy it at any price."

Critics of tort reform say capping damages will do little to bring down premium rates because high awards are not driving the increase.

For example, the Americans for Insurance Reform Study published by the Center for Justice & Democracy looked at what insurance companies have paid out in malpractice awards and what they have taken in over the past 30 years.

The study's conclusion states the amounts paid out in claims haven't really been rising, even though a few outlandish cases make it seem otherwise.

What drives insurance rates instead, the study said, has little to do with claims and everything to do with the profitability of the real business insurance companies are in: investing in stocks, bonds and real estate.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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