Opinion: MEANINGFUL REFORM IS NEEDED TO SAVE MEDICAL MALPRACTICE INSURANCE SYSTEM
Dr. ALLAN PEREL NEW DORP [The writer is president of the Richmond County Medical Society]
On behalf of the over 1,000 physicians who practice on Staten Island, I would like to thank and recognize the work of Gov. David Paterson, the New York State Senate and New York State Assembly for passing cutting-edge legislation to halt medical malpractice insurance increases in New York State for 12 months.
The bill, passed in an extraordinary summer session of the legislature, imposed a moratorium on the threatened $50,000 surcharge per physician and double-digit increase in malpractice insurance rates. This bold action initiated by the governor and other statewide elected officials has provided a time frame for meaningful reform of the medical malpractice system.
It is obvious to our publicly elected officials, the medical community as a whole, and our patients that changes must occur in our health care system. Our health care system is the best in the world with the finest trained physicians and the best technology available. Our great system cannot function if physicians cannot afford malpractice insurance. This will lead to the continued egress of physicians from New York state and will limit access to care.
A recent article in the Advance cited the entire borough of Staten Island as an area where there is a critical shortage of primary-care physicians. This must stop. There is no longer any reasonable argument that physicians are moving out of the state and are limiting their practices in our community. This will in the very near future affect the ability to see your physician in a timely fashion.
We, as physicians and members of the Staten Island community, are looking forward to working with the governor and our elected officials to help remedy these problems. We would like to thank the 2,000 physicians who left their practices on March 4 to march on Albany and bring these problems to our legislators. The voice of the medical and general community will be heard.