August 8, 2003
Source: The Florida Insurance Council
This statement was released today by the Florida Insurance Council's Vice President, Sam Miller, who can be reached at 850-459-3012.
The Florida Insurance Council acknowledges the tireless efforts of Governor Jeb Bush and the Legislature in developing a compromise bill to address the medical malpractice crisis in Florida. The issues are very difficult to understand, let alone to develop a solution to the growing problem of the rise in medical malpractice losses.
The Council's desire has always been to return rate stability and a competitive marketplace to Florida. The state has gone from 60 insurance carriers operating to only four that are currently writing new business.
The Florida Insurance Council shares the concerns expressed by others, and is disappointed that the compromise does not go far enough to have a definite impact on reducing losses thereby returning the market to a competitive state. The bill clearly does not adequately address serious issues raised by the insurance community. Specifically, the Council sees the pierceability of a cap on non-economic damages as a detriment to stabilizing rate levels. We acknowledge that any cap is better in predicting losses than present law. In addition, the current limits of liability chosen by the vast majority of physicians will have less of an impact due to the compromised level of the cap.
In addition, there is little in the proposal to justify a rate freeze or rate reduction. Current rates are based on anticipated losses for the current year. Most of the proposals will not impact losses until sometime in the future due to the way Florida law operates. Rates should be allowed to develop based on experience as it happens.
The Council is concerned that the insurance industry, the healthcare community, and the consumer will not see significant relief from this compromise while the trial lawyers continue their hold on the system.