By Scott Hobson – Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York
A recent report by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (FLOIR) revealed that New York ranks worst in the nation for medical liability costs. This troubling, but hardly surprising finding can now be added to New York’s list of dubious distinctions that include second highest tort system losses (Pacific Research Institute), “Medical Liability Crisis State (American Medical Association)”, and “Judicial Hellhole” (American Tort Reform Association).
According to the study, New York incurred one billion dollars in medical malpractice losses in 2010, nearly five times higher than California which has almost double our population. Total premiums collected, i.e. the cost to consumers, is double that of California. One key difference between New York and California? In the 1970s, California enacted a series of medical malpractice tort reforms, including limitations on non-economic “pain and suffering” awards.
In early 2011, the Medicaid Redesign Team made recommendations as to how to address the rising cost of Medicaid. One such proposal, which Governor Cuomo included in his Budget proposal, was a $250,000 cap on non-economic “pain and suffering” awards. Currently, 26 states have some form of cap on these awards. According to a study by the Perryman Group, such caps reduce medical malpractice premiums by an average of 21%. Unfortunately, the proposal never made it to the final budget.
As the Medicaid Redesign Team continues to meet to discuss how to address long term solutions to the costs of Medicaid, it is critical that they address our state’s disproportionately costly and inefficient medical malpractice system. Reforms, such as a cap on noneconomic damages, would have a significant impact on the cost of Medicaid, and must be part of a responsible FY 2012-13 Budget.