Conn. Gov. Rowland Affirms He Will Veto Med-Mal Bill

May 11, 2004

Conn. Governor John G. Rowland today stood with doctors and members of the Connecticut State Medical Society to announce that he will veto medcial malpractice legislation rceently passed because it lacks caps on damage awards.

Rowland said he would veto the bill as soon as it reaches his desk.

“This bill completely ignores the crisis of access that is raging in Connecticut and provides no real relief for our doctors or their patients,” said Governor Rowland. “It gives a false impression that the issue is being addressed. Doctors will continue to stop practicing or move to other states that have enacted real reform. The issue is not tax relief. The issue is access to quality care.”

The Governor also cited the legislation’s multi-million dollar price tag to taxpayers and its dependence on increased paperwork and documentation by doctors as additional reasons for his veto. The bill doctors to take a tax reduction on their state taxes for a portion of their insurance premiums. The Office of Policy and Management estimates the cost of this provision to taxpayers to be at least $5 million annually.

The Connecticut State Medical Society, representing thousands of doctors across the state, opposes the bill passed by the General Assembly.

“I think it is very telling that the people who asked us for help with this problem – doctors and their patients – are the same people asking me to veto this legislation. They were left out of the equation,” said Rowland. “Some have justified this legislation by stating ‘something is better than nothing.’ Well, that would be fine if this bill did something to help the situation. It does nothing.”

The Governor put medical malpractice on the legislative agenda last year when he announced his support for caps on non-economic damages of up to $750,000 for each defendant while giving judges the ability to set higher limits on a case-by-case basis. In states where non-economic damage caps have been limited, malpractice rates have increased an average of 12 percent per year. In Connecticut, rates have increased over 40 percent annually, forcing many doctors to give up or modify their practices.

Connecticut is down to only two insurance companies willing to underwrite malpractice insurance policies for doctors. One of the companies, Connecticut Medical Insurance, offered to institute an immediate 15 percent reduction in rates if the legislature passed a bill capping awards.

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