Legislation initiated by the Department of Insurance to help stabilize the Ohio medical malpractice market unanimously passed the Ohio Senate this week and will likely be signed by Governor Taft in March, Insurance Director Ann Womer Benjamin announced.
House Bill 282 would create a $12 million fund for medical malpractice initiatives and would also authorize the Insurance Director to establish a new Medical Liability Underwriting Association (MLUA) if the market worsens. The legislation, sponsored by Representative Larry Flowers (R – Canal Winchester), passed the House unanimously in January.
“The importance of securing the authority to establish the new MLUA and protecting this money to fund potential stabilization initiatives, both essential safety-net for doctors, can not be overstated,” Womer Benjamin said. “Ohioans need quality health care and the Department is aggressively pursuing all options to keep our doctors in the state.”
The legislation provides for the transfer of $12 million from the Ohio Joint Underwriting Association (JUA), a 1975 statutorily created medical malpractice insurance company, which is being terminated by law. The money could be used to fund the MLUA or other initiatives decided by the General Assembly. The Ohio Medical Malpractice Commission, established under Ohio’s medical malpractice tort reform legislation, SB 281, also is expected to recommend curative measures to the legislature, some of which may require funding.
The MLUA would write primary insurance coverage for doctors unable to find medical liability coverage. The operational aspects of the MLUA would be similar to the JUA.
Since Jan. 6, 2003, Womer Benjamin has been working to stabilize the medical malpractice arena, by implementing the requirements of SB 281; creating a system for reporting medical malpractice lawsuits, outcomes and settlements; rigorously reviewing rate filings; and initiating examinations of the rating and underwriting practices of Ohio’s top medical malpractice insurers.
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