More than 400 South Florida doctors marched to the steps of the Palm Beach County Courthouse yesterday in a protest rally against the increasing costs of medical malpractice insurance. Similar rallies have been held in several cities across the nation, highlighting one of the American Medical Association's top legislative priorities -- a measure now pending in Congress that would restrict noneconomic and punitive damages at $250,000. Officials say high insurance costs are not only forcing doctors to relocate or retire early but also are triggering a shutdown in services, such as the recent 10-day closure of a Las Vegas trauma center. One consumer group, however, testifying in Congress today on the AMA-backed bill, said the proposal would hurt consumers and might not significantly lower liability insurance rates. The bill "will confer substantial financial benefits only on malpractice insurance companies, not the average physician," said Jaime Court, executive director of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. -- by Michael Romano
Furor over malpractice insurance costs intensifies
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