PCI Urging Veto of Conn. Medical Liability Legislation

June 23, 2005

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) is urging Connecticut Gov. Jodi M. Rell to use her veto power on a medical malpractice insurance bill which fails to provide meaningful relief to doctors and imposes excessive regulations on insurers.

“The Governor’s veto would send a necessary message to the General Assembly that Connecticut needs significant and meaningful medical malpractice reform,” said Don Cleasby, regional manager and counsel for PCI. “Substitute Senate Bill 1052 is not that reform.”

In a June 24 letter to the governor requesting a veto, Cleasby identified several concerns about the bill, the most problematic of which was its failure to limit noneconomic damages. “PCI believes this is one of the most critical components of meaningful tort reform needed to help stabilize medical liability rates,” Cleasby wrote. “Studies have shown that limits on noneconomic damages reduce the uncertainty of awards and provide more stability to underwriters, while discouraging litigation and promoting a more uniform and fair environment for pain and suffering awards.”

Another primary problem with the bill is reportedly the addition of costly and unnecessary regulatory requirements including public hearings and expansive reporting of medical malpractice insurers without additional consumer protections.

“Insurers are already required to report basically the same claim information to the National Practitioner Data Base,” said Cleasby. “Since the Connecticut Insurance Department does not regulate doctors, we believe this reporting requirement is unnecessary. Insurers are concerned that these changes will increase costs to insurers and destabilize the marketplace.”

The bill also imposes additional costs on both medical malpractice insurers and the Department. Current state law already mandates proper recourse to those insureds who have been victims of unfair rate increases. The commissioner also has the authority to call a hearing in circumstances that merit it and can make a statement of charges against the carrier whenever he/she has reason to believe that the insurer engaged in any method of competition or practice that is unfair or deceptive. “Additional requirements would incur additional costs for insurers,” said Cleasby.

“This legislation is not a small step in the right direction on medical malpractice reform,” added Cleasby. “We see it as a stumble backward and not worthy of becoming law in Connecticut. PCI urges that this issue be considered as part of a meaningful study committee between now and the 2006 session so that effective legislation may be pursued in that session.”

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