Group says juries not to blame for cost surge

Chicago Tribune
Thursday, February 27, 2003

Insurance company business practices, not larger jury awards, are
largely to blame for soaring medical malpractice premiums in Illinois, a national consumer group said in a study released Wednesday.

Americans for Insurance Reform blames everything from a sagging economy and poor stock market conditions to insurance company pricing for the spike in Illinois medical malpractice premiums. The study runs counter to arguments by physicians and their lobbyists, who are pushing state and federal lawmakers to pass tort reform legislation that would cap
certain damages as a way to curb high malpractice costs.

"Consumers should know that the cause of spikes in doctors' medical malpractice premiums has nothing to do with the legal system and [jury]
payouts ... it has to do with the business practices of the insurance industry," said Joanne Doroshow, co-founder of the New York-based reform group, a coalition of more than 100 consumer groups led by the Center for Justice & Democracy.

To make its case, the coalition analyzed nearly 30 years of insurance
company data from insurance rating agency A.M. Best and Co., as well as
financial data from the Illinois Department of Insurance.

"There are ways of controlling these sharp ups and downs in premiums
which are causing this crisis," Doroshow said. "The only way is to
increase regulatory control over rates by insurance departments."
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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