Ohio Med-Mal Commission Issues Interim Report

March 11, 2004

Ohio’s Medical Malpractice Commission has released its interim report (PDF) to the governor and members of the General Assembly, recommending actions that could help stabilize medical malpractice rates in Ohio.

“The interim report highlights the Commission’s work to date and suggests to the General Assembly immediate actions, such as the establishment of a patient compensation fund and a medical screening process, which could help stabilize the state’s volatile medical malpractice market,” said Ohio Insurance Director Ann Womer Benjamin, who also chairs the commission. “While tort reform should have an impact on rates in the next several years, these additional measures the commission is recommending could help ease the pressure on rates sooner.”

Established under Senate Bill 281, the commission is required to deliver a report to the legislature in April 2005. The commission determined to issue an interim report before then to outline initial recommendations.

“We are documenting doctors who are leaving the state because of high premiums,” Womer Benjamin said. “This issue demands a comprehensive approach, and we are working to identify potential measures to stabilize the market and help keep doctors in Ohio.”

The commission recommended the following legislative action:

— House Bill 282, which authorizes the insurance director to create a Medical Liability Underwriting Association (MLUA) if the current medical malpractice market further deteriorates, should immediately be passed by the General Assembly and presented to Gov. Bob Taft for signature.
— Legislation requiring the reporting of medical malpractice lawsuit data, patterned after section 627.912 of the Florida Statutes, should be enacted by the Ohio General Assembly. Such legislation is necessary to evaluate fully the causes of the medical liability crisis in Ohio and to assist the Department and General Assembly in monitoring the market.
— The General Assembly and interested parties should continue to pursue expeditiously legislation creating a medical review screening process to pre-screen medical malpractice lawsuits.
— The General Assembly should give immediate consideration to establishing a patient compensation fund to help reduce medical malpractice rates.

The commission has held nine monthly meetings to date and one special session to finalize the interim report. The department initiated the MLUA legislation and is closely scrutinizing insurers’ ratemaking and underwriting practices.

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