New York Senate Tweaks Medical Malpractice Insurance Requirements

April 16, 2008

The New York State Senate has passed a bill that lowers the required level of primary medical malpractice coverage that a doctor must have to qualify for the state’s Excess Medical Malpractice Liability Insurance Coverage Program.

The bill, S 7038, now heads to the state Assembly.

“Malpractice insurance rates are pushing doctors out of our state and, if it continues, that will have a negative impact on the health care system,” said State Senator John Flanagan (R-C-I, East Northport), who sponsored the legislation. “This measure will provide the first real malpractice premium reduction in years and will allow health care providers to keep practicing in our state. That is vital to the health of our residents and the long-term stability of our economy.”

Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno said the legislation, which would lower premiums by an estimated 6 percent, “would help ease the burden faced by health care providers and would protect New York residents from facing higher insurance rates and from losing the doctors who they trust and need.”

The Excess Medical Malpractice Liability Insurance Coverage Program was created in 1986 to help stabilize the cost of medical malpractice liability insurance. Funding for the program has been altered several times and in 2002 was made a component of the Health Care Reform Act. Along with this switch, the required level of primary medical malpractice coverage that a physician or dentist must have in force in order to be eligible for excess coverage was also increased.

This change led to approximately 6 percent increases in the cost of primary medical malpractice coverage to physicians and dentists. This bill would return the primary coverage back to its pre-2002 levels and would reduce physician and dentists primary medical malpractice premiums by that same 6 percent.

In 2007, the New York State Insurance Department approved a 14 percent rate increase which followed increases of over 7 percent in every year since 2003.

“The goal is to make sure that physicians have a realistic opportunity to remain in New York State and to deliver quality care to all of our residents,” Flanagan said.

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