Senate Would Reduce Medical Malpractice Coverage

ALBANY—The New York State Senate has passed legislation (S.7038), sponsored by Sen. John Flanagan (R-C-I, East Northport) that would lower the required level of primary medical malpractice coverage that a physician or dentist must have in order to qualify for the New York Excess Medical Malpractice Liability Insurance Coverage Program. The measure has been sent to the Assembly.

“Malpractice insurance rates are pushing doctors out of our state and, if it continues, that will have a negative impact on the health care system. This measure will provide the first real malpractice premium reduction in years and will allow health care providers to keep practicing in our state,� stated Flanagan. �That is vital to the health of our residents and the long-term stability of our economy.�

The Excess Medical Malpractice Liability Insurance Coverage Program was created in 1986 to help stabilize the cost of medical malpractice liability insurance which was skyrocketing. It was felt that such stability would be critical to preserving access to physicians, especially high-risk specialty care practitioners, and protecting the health care system of New York State.

Funding for this important program has been altered several times and in 2002 was made a component of the Health Care Reform Act (HCRA). Along with this switch, the required level of primary medical malpractice coverage that a physician or dentist must have in force in order to be eligible for Excess coverage was also increased.

This change led to approximately 6 percent increases in the cost of primary medical malpractice coverage to physicians and dentists. This bill would return the primary coverage back to its pre-2002 levels and would reduce physician and dentists primary medical malpractice premiums by that same 6 percent.

This change would ease the burden that these providers are bearing due to rapidly escalating medical malpractice premiums. In 2007, the New York State Insurance Department approved a 14 percent rate increase which followed increases of over 7 percent in every year since 2003.

“The goal is to make sure that physicians have a realistic opportunity to remain in New York State and to deliver quality care to all of our residents. New Yorkers deserve a quality health care system and we need to attract and retain qualified physicians for that to be a reality,� added Senator Flanagan. �This legislation will help lower the cost of practicing medicine on Long Island and throughout the State, and that will benefit everyone.� 4-15-08

see original