Med-mal rates may go down, but doctors want bigger drop

Kris B. Mamula

doctorMedical malpractice insurance premiums appear to be falling, evidence that Pennsylvania’s climate for hospitals and doctors is improving, according to a state association representing trial lawyers.

But medical groups say the size of malpractice awards in Pennsylvania is rising faster than elsewhere, discouraging doctors from opening practices and making it difficult for hospitals to do business.

“Any reduction is great news for us, but we still have a ways to go,” said Jack Krah, executive director of the Allegheny County Medical Society. “We’re in a competitive environment for medical personnel.”

Earlier this month, the Joint Underwriting Association, a nonprofit Plymouth Meeting, Pa.-based agency, asked the state to reduce overall medical malpractice premiums by 4.4 percent. The Insurance Department has 60 days to review the filing. Hospitals and doctors are required to carry malpractice insurance, and the Joint Underwriting Association provides coverage when it’s not available from commercial carriers.

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