In her State of the State address to state legislators this week, Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle outlined 180 proposals she is urging lawmakers to support, including a number of measures that would affect the insurance industry and policyholders.
Lingle’s proposals include:
· Cap non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits at $250,000 by limiting attorney fees and requiring damages to be allocated based on degree of negligence.
· Provide reasonable immunity from liability to licensed medical professionals who volunteer to help the state provide health services and augment state medical resources.
· Allow information regarding whether a person was wearing a seat belt or a motorcycle helmet to be used when determining negligence in vehicle accidents.
· Prohibit drivers between the ages of 15 ½ and 18 from using a cell phone or any other electronic device while operating a motor vehicle.
· Permit the courts to require the use of an ignition interlock system for a convicted drunk driver to operate a vehicle.
· Ensure state laws conform to federal requirements prohibiting people convicted of a DUI from operating a commercial vehicle.
· Automate claims filing and access to information about work-related health programs, including workers’ comp, temporary disability and prepaid health care.
· Improve access to WC medical services by allowing unions to design and operate WC programs for their members.
· Increase medical reimbursements for doctors and others who treat work-related injuries.
· Allow doctors and other medical service providers to collect payments directly from health insurers rather than the patient.
· Establish a statewide hospital emergency surveillance system for early detection of bioterrorism threats and other public health emergencies.
· Increase insurance coverage limits from $750,000 to $1 million under the Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund to reflect higher construction costs and property valuations.
· Increase the State Disaster Loan Program amounts to repair residences from $35,000 to $50,000 and businesses from $75,000 to $100,000, setting the interest rate at 1% below the SBA rate to make loans affordable.
· Revamp the disaster loss mitigation program to provide homeowners with a tax credit for installing hurricane protection devices, building a safe room or in-home shelter, covering up to 35% of the cost of improvements.
· Prohibit price gouging and unfair business practices during a declared state disaster.
· Update Hawaii’s 1993 law to ensure communities are properly notified about hazardous spills.
· Increase fines for environmental violations on public lands from $500 to $2,000 per day or $10,000 per violation, and establish a penalty system for violations in state conservation districts.
· Allow the state to remove a grounded vessel by any means necessary to minimize damage to natural resources and ensure safe navigation.
Source: State of Hawaii Governor’s Office
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