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Damage caps will not reduce premiums, says atty. who fought Calif. med-mal hikes

Text of press release:

Bush Expected to Call for Medical Malpractice Damage Caps; Attorney Who Fought Illegal Medical Malpractice Insurance Hikes Available For Comment


California lawyer Daniel Y. Zohar, best known as the attorney who saved doctors nearly $40 million by utilizing Prop. 103 to convince the California Department of Insurance to strike down illegal medical malpractice premium hikes, is available to comment on President Bush's expected push for damage caps in medical malpractice cases when the president visits Illinois Wednesday, January 5, 2005.

He has the following initial comments on the expected announcement:

"Anyone who thinks that arbitrary damage caps will reduce doctors' premiums should take a long, hard look at California, where 10 years after the caps passed, rates had still gone up 400 percent. It was only when we started regulating insurance companies in 1988 (under Prop. 103), that rates started coming under control and, even then, they must still be monitored to this day.

"Has anyone ever asked just how much money the insurance giants -- the ones who have been raising doctors' premiums year after year -- have been making the last five years?

"Perhaps someday President Bush will find the courage to address frivolous defenses made by insurance carriers on behalf of bad doctors. Doctors who went to unaccredited, foreign medical schools and then come here and destroy people's lives. Doctors who, in spite of repeated instances of malpractice, continue to keep their licenses and treat unsuspecting patients. Why is it so easy to find out if your auto mechanic is honest, and so hard to find out if your doctor has ever hurt his patients?

"The irony is that good doctors and good lawyers want the same thing: to protect people from bad doctors. Working together, we can demand that bad doctors take full responsibility for their actions, and that bad lawyers not be allowed to bring merit-less cases against good doctors. Yet caps fail on both counts. Instead, we must look to the true source of sky-rocketing insurance premiums: the profit-hungry board rooms of Big Insurance.

"Arbitrary caps hurt the most vulnerable victims -- brain damaged babies, housewives, the elderly -- I am all too familiar with the expressions of utter disbelief on the faces of grieving families, who have been devastated by preventable medical mistakes, when they're first told the life of their child or wife or parent was worth no more than $250,000."

Daniel Zohar is a partner with Heimberg & Zohar LLP, a leading medical malpractice firm in Los Angeles. He is on the board of governors of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles.

http://www.usnewswire.com/ Contact: Geri Wilson of The Jonathan Group, 626-574-1205

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