Insurer Says Legislature’s Current Medical Liability Proposals Will Prohibit Earlier Pledge to Lower Rates

June 19, 2003

Florida’s largest medical liability insurer said that the Legislature’s failure to adopt Governor Jeb Bush’s reform package will reportedly prohibit the company from reducing premium rates for doctors and hospitals by an average 20 percent, as it had earlier pledged.

Leaders of the Coalition to Heal Healthcare in Florida said the announcement by First Professionals Insurance Company of Jacksonville demonstrates that bills currently moving through the House and Senate will not solve the crisis, and that lawmakers must embrace Governor Bush’s comprehensive reform plan.

On June 2, Robert White, the President of First Professionals, informed Governor Bush that his company was reportedly committed to immediately lowering premiums by an average of 20 percent if the Legislature adopted the governor’s reform package, which is based on the 60 recommendations made by a task force of university leaders.

But as lawmakers debated the medical liability crisis in special session this week, they reportedly failed to embrace key elements of the governor’s plan, including reforms to the state’s so-called “bad faith” laws. In a letter sent to the governor this afternoon, White said the Legislature’s actions will not only prevent a rate reduction, they “will result in significant premium increases.”

“As we stated in our previous letter, we believe that the legislative plan you set forth is an actuarially sound method to allow reductions in medical liability premium rates and would also serve to restore a competitive marketplace in Florida,” White wrote. “We stand prepared to keep our pledge if the medical liability reform plan you presented becomes law.”

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