The American Medical Association said six more states have reached a medical malpractice crisis with insurance rates so high physicians are choosing to retire or relocate and patients are losing access to care. The AMA's list of crisis states, which debuted last June, now totals 18. The new states are: Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri and North Carolina. The 12 states previously identified are: Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and West Virginia. The AMA's announcement of its expanded list came as the House readied for more hearings on malpractice reform and to consider changes to a bill introduced by Rep. Jim Greenwood (R-Pa.) that would limit noneconomic damages in malpractice cases to $250,000.
The Medical Group Management Association, meanwhile, said medical malpractice premiums for its members increased by more than 53% between 2002 and 2003, based on an online survey of a sampling of its members. About 26% of the practices said their physicians planned to retire, relocate or restrict their services over the next three years. -- by Tony Fong and Michael Romano