Southeast Zone: Florida eyeing med mal cap

Insurance Chronicle
Monday, October 28, 2002

Health-care providers and insurance executives made their case to a state task force on the state's burgeoning medical malpractice liability coverage crisis last week. They hoped to convince lawmakers that limiting the size of jury awards against errant physicians is the only way to stem the flow of good doctors from leaving the state.

Last week's hearing in Orlando was the first meeting of Gov. Jeb Bush's Select Task Force on Healthcare Professional Liability Insurance. Bush created the panel in August to devise ways to stabilize or reduce medical- malpractice insurance premiums. The task force is comprised of academics from five Florida universities and chaired by John Hitt, president of the University of Central Florida.

Consumer advocates and personal-injury lawyers argued at the hearing that capping awards in malpractice cases would harm the victims of malpractice by removing their sole course of action to punish negligent doctors. Additionally, they criticized the lack of invitations to speak for people against limits on jury awards. Of the 42 people who spoke at the hearing, the critics noted, only a few opposed a cap.

"It seems pretty clear that they (task force members) are not serious about considering alternatives to tort reform," said Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the New York-based Center for Justice and Democracy. "They have stacked the deck against us." For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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