Report author: Criticism in AMNews editorial was shortsighted

LETTER — Posted April 24, 2006

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Regarding "Tort reform: The truth of the matter" (Editorial, Feb. 20): I am writing in response to the editorial taking issue with my report for the Center for Justice and Democracy, "Falling Claims and Rising Premiums in the Medical Malpractice Insurance Industry," available online.

Your editorial does both physicians and the general public a disservice by refusing to even consider the possibility that insurers are charging physicians unjustifiably high rates.

State medical associations could better serve members if, in addition to supporting tort reform, they also supported the following:

  • Prohibiting liability insurers from increasing rates when they have excessive surpluses -- the extra cushions they have accumulated in addition to the amount they have set aside to pay projected future claims.
  • Empowering state insurance departments to disapprove excessive liability insurance rate increases and to order refunds of excessive rates.
  • Requiring insurance departments to post on the Internet the price each medical liability insurer charges each medical specialty. This would enable any physician to seek coverage from the insurer offering the lowest price for his particular specialty and would encourage price competition.

In short, supporting tort reform need not and should not mean opposing insurance reform.

Jay Angoff, Columbia, Mo.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2006/04/24/edlt0424.htm.

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