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Red Alert: Caps vote possible in coming weeks

President's Message

by Richard J. Schubert, Esq.


Richard J. Schubert, a partner in the Pittsburgh law firm of Lydon & Schubert, P.C., is President of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association.

(11/25/03) -- There is a real possibility that in the next few weeks, the Pennsylvania state Senate may vote on a broad “all-tort” constitutional amendment as part of an agreement to once again subsidize doctors’ insurance premiums and insurance companies’ profits with taxpayer monies. 

Trial lawyers and other victims’ advocates must continue to fight against imposition of an arbitrary flat cap on non-economic damages that would limit our clients’ rights.

If you or anyone you know is friends with a state Senator, please contact them and ask them to fully consider the facts about caps before voting for them. Any fair evaluation of caps will reveal that they won’t work, they aren’t fair and there are alternatives that will both work and be fair.

If you need additional information or background about the issue, please do not hesitate to contact PaTLA at 215-546-6451.

Doctors ratcheting up their rhetoric at the same time their claims are being disproved. The doctors’ lobby has begun ratcheting up its rhetoric and activities at the same time that their central claim for caps has been disproved.  In a letter to the Republican and Democratic chairs of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee and Judiciary Committee, the Department of Insurance has revealed that the number of doctors in Pennsylvania has INCREASED over the last few years by over 1,000 doctors.  This directly contradicts the claims of the doctors’ lobby that doctors are leaving.  Just last week, Dr. Desai, the new president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, said, “The net number of physicians is down. No question about that … Some come in, but more left than came in.”  With this new data release from the Insurance Department, it is clear that what there is no doubt that his claim - and the claim of all other caps proponents -- is patently and demonstrably false.

Caps failing to reduce doctors’ insurance rates in Texas as caps proponents said they would.   Two months after Texas voters approved a cap on non-economic damages in civil cases - a cap supporters guaranteed would lower malpractice insurance rates for the state’s doctors - rates are rising or staying the same for the majority of the Texas doctors.  Only one insurer is cutting rates, while two are raising them and two are holding steady.  The state’s Joint Underwriting Account also sought a massive rate hike, which has been rejected by the state’s Insurance Department.  Before the vote, the Texas Department of Insurance estimated physicians could save between 8.5 percent and 11.5 percent on premiums if caps were passed. [Houston Chronicle, 11/19/03, 11/20/03]


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