A new Florida law that limits noneconomic damages in most medical malpractice cases has reaped immediate rewards for physicians -- insurers will be required to file for rates almost 8% lower than they might have before the legislation was enacted. That doesn't, however, mean physicians will pay lower rates than they did in previous years, officials said. The law, signed by Gov. Jeb Bush in August, limits noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases to $500,000. It also includes a requirement that the state Office of Insurance Regulation establish a "presumed factor," reflecting the assumption that insurers will have lower liability costs under the law. Insurers must use the presumed factor when calculating rates. However, even with today's announcement of a negative 7.8% factor, malpractice insurers still are expected to ask for rate increases for 2004, said Kevin McCarty, director of the state office. -- by Michael Romano
Fla. law requires lower malpractice rate increases
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