Association of American Physicians & Surgeons

The Voice for Private Physicians Since 1943

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To: AAPS Members and Friends in Maryland - 1/7/2005

 

Help stop the Superfund for Trial Lawyers!

 

With professional liability premiums scheduled to go up by 28 to 33%, Governor Ehrlich called a special section of the legislature. But the agenda for genuine tort reform was hijacked by trial lawyers, who want state taxpayers to foot the bill for trial lawyers’ fees through a state “stop-gap” or reinsurance fund. The tax is estimated to amount to up to $423 million.

 

The Governor has promised to veto the bill, but the legislature is likely to override his veto.

 

One actuary estimates that the average physician will save only 2.9% in premiums if the bill goes into effect.

 

The tort reforms are minimal. The cap on noneconomic damages remains at $650,000, but the annual $15,000 increases would be frozen until 2008. The total of noneconomic damages that could be awarded in a wrongful death action is decreased from $1.6 million to $812,500 (see Fiscal and Policy Note by the Department of Legislative Services).

 

Minimal improvements are more than offset by other provisions of serious concern to physicians:

 

·         The standard of proof for professional licensure actions is decreased from “clear and convincing” to a “preponderance of evidence” (the allegations are more likely to be true than not).

 

·         Liability insurance may not include coverage for defense of a health care provider in a professional disciplinary hearing.

 

·         Liability insurers who insure a professional who has been licensed for three or more years are “exempt from the prohibition against canceling or refusing to underwrite or renew a particular insurance risk except by standards that are reasonably related to the insurers’ economic and business purposes.”

 

The finger-in-the-dike approach will not be effective and will only impede efforts to achieve meaningful reform in the regular session.

 

A tax increase to perpetuate the current absurd system is not the answer.

 

 

What you can do:

 

A few Senate Democrats might be persuaded to vote against the override. Please contact your Senator and encourage him to support the Governor–especially Senators Astle, Brochin, Degrange, Jimeno, Kasemeyer, Klausmeier, Middleton, and Stone. Call now: a vote could occur before the end of next week, Jan. 14.

 

You can find your legislator by entering your street address or ZIP code on the Maryland General Assembly home page, www.mlis.state.md.us.

 

To inform yourself more fully on the issue, see the Maryland Public Policy Institute web site at www.mdpolicy.org.

 

Let MedChi know that you oppose the trial lawyers’ effort to derail tort reform.

 

 

 

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