In insurance cost, woes for doctors and women

New York Times
Thursday, May 29, 2003

Shannon Minor went to the drugstore last year to buy a home pregnancy test, picked up the local newspaper and read some bad news: her obstetrician, Barbara Pringle, was planning to stop delivering babies.

President Bush and Republicans in Congress have used the plight of doctors to push for a law to cap jury awards.

Opponents of the cap say supporters of the change are using obstetricians to exploit public sympathy and blaming the legal system rather than the real culprits: insurance and health care industries in need of overhaul.

"There's a lot of fearmongering and overstating of the problem when you talk about ob-gyns, "said Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice and Democracy, a consumer advocacy group in New York City that sent people injured by malpractice to Washington to lobby against the legislation.

But even opponents of a cap on awards acknowledge a serious problem with the availability of doctors like obstetricians.

"It's hard to overstate the problem," said Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington. "The problem is real, but I think it's simplistic to just say the only solution is the medical malpractice bill the House passed. That's where we go off track."

Caps, alone, Ms. Murray said, "have never been proven to bring down the insurance rates."

Ms. Murray added that she and two other senators were drafting a bill for federal aid for doctors facing higher insurance rates and lower Medicaid reimbursement.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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