Lawmakers prepare for vote on medical malpractice bill

Associated Press
Monday, January 28, 2002

Advocates for Pennsylvania patients and doctors pushed lawmakers to move forward with medical-malpractice reform Monday as the House prepared to debate a measure to reduce insurance costs that physicians say are driving them out of business.

The House has scheduled a vote Tuesday on a measure that originally focused on phasing out over a six-year period a state insurance fund that covers doctors when their own malpractice coverage runs out.

The measure would place the Medical Professional Liability Catastrophe Loss Fund, commonly called the CAT fund, under an independent authority, and increase the level of coverage doctors must obtain from private insurers.

Following a caucus by House Republicans on the measure Monday afternoon, the bill's sponsor, Rep. Nicholas Micozzie, said it would be expanded through amendments that would include other reforms, such as tort reform and provisions to improve patient safety.

"Here's what we're trying to establish: An atmosphere that will allow malpractice insurers to write insurance at a lesser rate. They have to perceive that the risk is lessened," said Micozzie, R-Delaware.

Citizens for Consumer Justice, a Philadelphia-based consumer group, held a news conference Monday opposing tort reform. The group cited a study published in 1999 by the New York-based Center for Justice and Democracy, which found insurance rates have not been reduced in states that have enacted tort reform.

"Consumers and patients should not allow insurers to take away their access to the courts," said Lauren Townsend, executive director of Citizens for Consumer Justice.

For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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