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New York Starts Moratorium on Medical Malpractice Rate Hikes

A bill that temporarily freezes medical malpractice insurance rates was signed into law recently by New York Governor David Paterson.

The moratorium on rate hikes is to last until July 1, 2009 to give policy-makers and state lawmakers time to reach agreement on how to reduce these rates.

Avoiding Rate Hikes for a Few Months

Vito Grasso, executive vice president of the New York Academy of Family Physicians noted that the bill, A.B. 40003, is a response to the State Assembly’s failure to enact medical malpractice reforms.

Governor Paterson’s intent in signing the bill, A.B. 40003, is apparently to avoid potential rate hikes that could have reached 30 percent this year alone.

Medical Malpractice Reform Is Needed

The bill, passed as part of a larger budget bill for New York State, is just a “band-aid” solution for the problem of rising medical malpractice insurance rates, falling far short of the needed reforms, according to Dr. Grasso.

The Assembly and the governor are expected to address medical malpractice reform in January, when the 2009 legislative session begins.

Some lawmakers have proposed using specialized medical courts that would rely on the discretion of judges (rather than juries) and caps on medical liability rewards as strategies to avoid further medical malpractice rate hikes.

(Source: www.aafp.org)

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