Task Force Became Task Farce

Times Union
Monday, June 30, 2008

A task force set up to help fix New York's medical malpractice system was nothing but a "sham" that fell apart as special interests tried to profit from their positions on the panel, some members say…

Joanne Doroshow, a task force member who represents the Center for Justice and Democracy, said the atmosphere became so bitter that eventually the panel stopped meeting in December. Other members said the Paterson administration has since tried to negotiate a solution by meeting with some task force members privately.

"The other parties wanted this to go beyond the medical malpractice crisis," said Doroshow, who said lawyers' groups were actually late in pushing their own agenda after other members -- including hospital, physician and insurance representatives -- tried to get something out of attorneys and plaintiffs, such as limits on malpractice awards. "Everybody wanted something from them...Finally, I think that the lawyers said, this is ridiculous, we need something."

The Medical Malpractice Liability Advisory Task Force was set up last year by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer to come up with ways to resolve what was said to be a $525 million deficit faced by the Medical Malpractice Insurance Plan, an assigned risk pool for doctors with spotty malpractice track records. MMIP was the successor to another plan that had built up a surplus of close to $1 billion, but which Govs. Mario M. Cuomo and George Pataki drained to balance the state budget.

If the state hadn't raided the surplus, observers say, there would be no crisis today...

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

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