Firms to answer malpractice rate allegations

BY PAIGE ST. JOHN
FLORIDA TODAY CAPITAL BUREAU
http://www.floridatoday.com

Medical malpractice companies benefiting from courtroom caps today must tell state regulators why they are not returning more of that money to doctors and the public.

Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty has ordered executives of major malpractice insurers to attend public hearings today in Tallahassee on their rates.

Consumer Advocate Steve Burgess, in the Department of Financial Services, estimates premiums should be cut 40 percent to 50 percent.

Michigan-based ProNational Insurance instead offers to cut rates 8.6 percent.

The Legislature three years ago capped pain and suffering awards to $500,000 per physician and $1 million per case. Since then, Burgess contends, insurance data shows medical malpractice legal costs and payouts have dropped 43.6 percent, from $989 million to $557 million.
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