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New York’s Insurance Rates Among the Highest in the Nation

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.

 

Soaring healthcare costs crush economy

By Scott Hobson – Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York

A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation research group uncovered some disturbing facts – the average premium for health insurance for a family of four increased 9% in just one short year.  Average families, the report found, now pay over $15,000 per year for health insurance.

How did we get here? An undeniable reason healthcare is so expensive is the practice of defensive medicine and the proliferation of massive legal settlements – health care providers are ordering unnecessary tests and procedures for fear of being sued.  In America, the most litigious country in the world, we spend $50 billion each year on unnecessary “defensive” procedures.  Without medical malpractice reform, healthcare costs will continue to crush our economy while every American pays for million-dollar lawsuits against our best and brightest.

A recent article in the New York Times about this study questions the reason behind these climbing rates.

WNY – Progress on malpractice reform

“Western New York is already home to drug courts and mental health courts that have attracted attention for achieving positive results. Now, patterned after an effort originating in the Bronx, Buffalo’s new medical malpractice court is handling cases involving hospitals affiliated with the Catholic and Kaleida Health systems and Erie County Medical Center. Eventually, it is expected to handle all malpractice lawsuits filed in State Supreme Court in Erie County.

The goal, according to Judge Judy Harris Kluger, the state court system’s chief of policy and planning, is to “help speed the process of medical malpractice cases,” aiming to reduce litigation costs and help ensure fair and appropriate resolutions. When fair resolutions are reached in the early stages of a court action, years of litigation and massive legal expenses can be avoided.

Malpractice costs are among the factors that not only drive up the costs of health care in New York but also drive out doctors, especially those practicing in high-risk specialities such as obstetrics. Anything that lowers those costs could also lower malpractice insurance rates and help to slow the outflow of medical talent.”

Read More from this Buffalo New Editorial.

 

LRANY applauds the creation of a medical malpractice court in Buffalo and is working to bring similar steps towards reform throughout the state.

Ohio obstetrician’s personal property to pay judgment

Plaintiffs prepare to seize Ohio obstetrician’s assets to collect $9.7 million judgment against her. While the attorneys have been debating for 11 months over pre-judgment interest for this case, the plaintiff received a writ of execution against the doctor. Her personal vehicle and other personal property are all being targeted.  A court hearing has been set to determine how much of doctors wages will be garnished.

Read More

With New York’s obstetricians dwindling, malpractice insurance costs skyrocketing and our extreme litigious climate, this story hits close to home. Lawsuit reform is needed to help keep doctors in our state, lower medical costs and increase New Yorker’s access to healthcare. 

 

Malpractice Update-Peninsula Hospital Closing

The news that the Peninsula Hospital in Far Rockaway is closing is all too familiar.

New York is facing an unprecedented medical liability crisis and the cost of insurance continues to outpace all other measures. New Yorkers pay more than $130 million annually in taxes to subsidize the cost of malpractice insurance, yet the premiums paid by doctors and hospitals remains astronomically high when compared to other states. Doctors in some parts of New York pay upwards of $200,000 per year in premiums and some health care providers cannot get coverage at all.  This increases our cost of health care and our ability to access it.

Governor Cuomo included a cap on non-economic damages in his 2011 budget, which would have helped control costs and begin to lessen the burden on health care providers and taxpayers but the cap did not make it through the legislature.

We must pressure the legislature to pass the cap before there are no hospitals left.

View the full Queens Tribune letter to the editor,  (third letter down) written by LRANY’s executive director, Tom Stebbins.

New York Post-Thanks for the doctors, New York

 

Texas attorney Joseph M. Nixon’s piece in the New York Post this week tells the story of two New York doctors who fled New York’s horrendous legal climate for doctor-friendly Texas, where medical liability rates are much lower.  New York taxpayers paid to educate and train these doctors, but New York law forced them to practice somewhere else.

Since 2003, medical liability rates in New York have increased more than 60 percent; in Texas, they’ve dropped by 54 percent.  According to the Texas Medical Board records,  since September 2003, when Texas voters approved the Proposition 12 medical-liability reforms 1,271 New York physicians have begun practicing in Texas.

New York needs these medical-liability reforms before ALL of our doctors leave the state!

 

 

“New Yorkers Should Not Be Asked to Choose Between Patient Safety and Tort Reform. They Deserve Both.”

Dr. Howard Minkoff, the chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Maimonides Medical Center, wrote a great op-ed in the Sunday, April 17 Times Union which points out the disingenuous nature of the arguments against malpractice reform in New York State.  Click here to see the whole article.  LRANY continues to work to keep this critical issue alive in the Legislature.  Keep posted for more details!