State’s leaders take up malpractice reform issue

Bowling Green Daily News
Friday, January 7, 2005

A proposal to limit malpractice awards trumpeted by the president is now being taken up by Kentucky political leaders.
Both Gov. Ernie Fletcher and Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, have said recently Kentucky should limit its awards with changes to the law, generally referred to as tort reform.
Reform would, they said, reduce malpractice insurance costs. The question in the minds of some experts is whether such moves do any good.
“I did research to track what happened to malpractice insurance rates after states enacted tort reform,” said J. Robert Hunter, previously the Commissioner of Insurance in Texas. “I divided all the states into three categories – those with severe, moderate and little reform. I found no difference in the rates for malpractice insurance after tort reforms in any of the groups – over 20-year and 10-year periods.”

“Causes of this problem lie within the insurance industry,” said Joanne Doroshow, the executive director of the Center of Justice and Democracy in New York. “They raise rates when their investments don’t do well, not based on lawsuit payouts.”
The group Doroshow heads advocates against limits on the right to trial by jury and to keep an independent judiciary. It is a fight she said grew out of her years of work with Ralph Nader’s consumer advocacy group.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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