Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s proposed medical liability reform package, which was unveiled Thursday, would reportedly solve the state’s insurance crisis by implementing major legal and insurance reforms, changing the physician discipline system, and establishing insurance rate rollbacks of 20 percent.
“We have been actively involved in working with the industry coalition in developing fair and equitable medical liability reform, and Governor Bush’s proposal is right in line with our recommendations,” James Taylor, southeastern regional manager for the National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII), said. “Florida needs just such a dramatic remedy for its severe medical liability crisis.”
Among its key provisions, the Bush proposal would:
·Establish a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages, with no limit for economic damages;
·Encourage voluntary binding arbitration and mandatory mediation;
·Reform bad faith provisions, allowing insurers to make settlement offers once they have all the information they need to make a reasonable decision;
·Permit doctors to self-insure;
·Give the Board of Medicine more authority over standard of care issues and making it easier for the Board to perform disciplinary functions; and
·Require all health care facilities to have a patient safety plan.
The average medical liability premium per doctor in Florida in 2002 was 55 percent higher than the national average. Average insurance premiums in the state have increased 64 percent since 1996, compared with national insurance premium increases of 26 percent. The number of insurance companies writing medical malpractice policies in Florida went from 66 companies in 1999 to 12 today, only four of which write medical malpractice insurance.
“By addressing tort reform, insurance reform and quality of care, the Bush proposal would alleviate most of the problems inherent in the current medical liability system,” Taylor concluded.
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