NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 16, 2004

Skyrocketing malpractice insurance rates, along with the possibility of losing one's home and assets are prompting specialty doctors to relocate to states with lower rates or leave the medical field altogether, says the American Medical Association.

According to the AMA:

  • Fewer physicians now enter high-risk specialties; those who do tend to avoid states with high insurance premiums.
  • For patients, this means poorer care and higher costs -- for instance, according to Ted Kanellakes of the Illinois State Neurosurgical Society, virtually the entire southern half of Illinois now lacks access to neurosurgeons, which means that patients don't have access to care for head trauma, aneurysms and brain tumors.
  • The good news is that in states with caps on damage awards, like California, insurance rates are relatively stable; the rest of the country should quickly follow suit.

Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards, the presumptive Democratic nominees for president and vice-president, have repeatedly voted against limiting malpractice lawsuits, says the Washington Times. Kerry has said he would require an impartial review of a claim before an individual could file suit, but would not place limits on "legitimate" damage awards as decided by juries.

Source: Editorial, "Malpractice maelstrom," Washington Times, July 14, 2004.


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