Medical society: Malpractice rates hurt health care

By Candice Ferrette

HARRISON – Patients aren’t getting the care they deserve, doctors are leaving New York and everyone is paying more for less insurance coverage.

But state lawmakers have an opportunity to help reform the ailing system by reducing malpractice rates for doctors and by putting more regulations on managed-care companies, representatives from the Westchester County Medical Society and the state’s medical society told The Journal News’ Editorial Board yesterday.

“We need to preserve our hospitals and their ability to provide the care people expect,” said Dr. Michael Rosenberg, president of the Medical Society of the State of New York, which represents more than 30,000 doctors, surgeons and medical students in the state.

The meeting was held as legislative leaders gathered in Albany for an emergency session. They are expected to cut about $600 million from the current $122 billion budget – mostly in unspecified health-care and education spending.

The doctors said the managed-care companies, not the state, should contribute more money to the state’s health-care system. In Connecticut and New Jersey, the managed-care companies are more tightly regulated, Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg and others called on lawmakers to cap the malpractice insurance premiums doctors must pay – an expense they say has risen nearly 80 percent in the last five years.

Last month, state insurance superintendent Eric Dinallo announced he was delaying the setting of new medical malpractice insurance rates past July 1 to allow time for the negotiation of reforms that have the potential to result in reduced rates.

Dinallo has the ability to cap malpractice insurance rates but not managed-care premiums.

The doctors also advocated for stricter regulations on managed-care companies, such as a bill that would require a 90-day notification period before an insurer could make changes to a policy.

“It happens all the time. A patient has insurance and then he gets really sick and finds out that he really doesn’t,” said Dr. Alfred Tinger, past president of the Westchester Medical Society and a radiation oncologist at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco. “It is very sad. That’s not something you want to deal with when you are that sick.”

Reach Candice Ferrette at or 914-696-8229.

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