FPIC Insurance Group, Florida's largest medical malpractice insurance carrier, says it will cut premiums by an average of 20% if the state passes a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages this year, according to a letter FPIC sent Monday to Gov. Jeb Bush.
Robert White, president of the Jacksonville-based insurer, warns in the letter that "any changes in key provisions, such as the cap on noneconomic damages or bad faith reform, could seriously impair the actuarial soundness of the bill and make it impossible to achieve the savings that the bill, in its present form, will make possible."
Bush last week introduced a comprehensive tort reform bill, including the $250,000 cap, and called the special session of the Legislature for June 16-19 to consider the bill.
In the Legislature's regular session, which has ended, the Florida house passed a $250,000 cap, but the Senate refused to pass the cap and instead passed three other bills, including one that would force malpractice carriers to roll back premiums.
Senate leaders reportedly will reintroduce the three bills again in the special session.
The Florida Medical Association supports Bush's bill, and several practices across the state have temporarily closed in protest of the Legislature's lack of action on tort reform.
In addition to the cap, a release from Bush's office says the governor's 64-section reform package would:
- require hospitals and physicians to report adverse incidents to patients;
- give the state board of medicine more authority and tighten its disciplinary function;
- create sovereign immunity for doctors and hospitals that provide emergency care;
- require mandatory mediation and encourage voluntary binding arbitration of malpractice cases;
- let carriers make settlement offers once they have all the information they need;
- require reporting of malpractice claims to the Department of Insurance; and
- permit doctors to self-insure for malpractice coverage.