NAII Strongly Opposes Proposed Medical Liability Rate Rollback in Fla.

March 28, 2003

The Florida Senate Banking and Insurance Committee took a 180-degree turn from the direction of the House and approved legislation that would roll back rates back by 60 percent. The National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII) said Senate Bill 2080 would deepen the state’s medical liability insurance crisis.

According to the NAII, the bill, patterned after California’s Proposition 103, fails to cap noneconomic damages or put in place other key reforms that have been approved in the House.

“This legislation is very troubling. We hope that this is not an indication that the Senate does not take the current crisis seriously,” said James Taylor, southeastern regional manager for the National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII). “A rate rollback cannot be actuarially justified and the Senate is moving in the wrong direction on this issue. This approach sends a clear message to healthcare providers and insurers that Florida will be a very difficult place to do business. It takes cost control out of the hand of doctors and puts in the hands of trial lawyers. By failing to implement cost control measures and taking an axe to rates, this legislation will only make matters worse. The Senate committee failed to stand up to the trial lawyers and is thwarting the will of most Floridians who support meaningful reforms that control costs and want to preserve their access to healthcare.”

In the House, legislation (HB1713) has advanced that follows the Governor’s Task Force recommendations that among many things puts in place a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages, new standards for bad faith lawsuits and the elimination of the expansion of the wrongful death statute.

“From the initial actions in the Senate, it is obvious that the effort to bring significant positive reform addressing the medical liability crisis will face tough sledding. Governor Bush has made it very clear he favors a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages. The House defeated attempts to place premium rollbacks into the legislation because they would further damage the healthcare system. Now we are urging the Senate to seriously address costs within the system and implement the reforms that will resolve the medical liability crisis,” Taylor said.

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