AIA: Md. Legislators Miss Opportunity to Pass Meaningful Med-Mal Reform

January 3, 2005

According to the American Insurance Association (AIA), the Maryland General Assembly wasted an opportunity to create more meaningful medical malpractice reforms by passing watered-down and ineffective legislation instead. In a session lasting past 3 a.m. one day last week, the legislature approved House Bill 2, in spite of Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s (R) pledge to veto the bill.

During the General Assembly’s special session, legislative negotiators struck a compromise which included a people’s counsel component. According to the legislation, a people’s counsel would represent consumers in medical malpractice (and homeowners insurance) rate hearings.

“AIA is strongly opposed to the creation of an Office of People’s Counsel,” stated Tammy Velasquez, AIA assistant vice president, mid-Atlantic region. “This provision will have an extremely negative impact on the insurance market in Maryland.”

Insurance companies are reportedly already highly regulated by the Maryland Insurance Administration (MIA) through a complex system of laws and regulations that are in place regarding rates, forms and the fair handling of claims. In recent years, Maryland has worked to improve the business climate for insurers in the state and the addition of a people’s counsel would be counter to those efforts.

“By passing House Bill 2, the Maryland General Assembly has missed a critical opportunity to focus on the underlining cost drivers of a medical malpractice system that is desperately in need of reform,” added Velasquez.

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