Wyoming lawmakers have voted overwhelmingly to convene a weeklong special session next month to consider reforms to the state's medical malpractice regulations. The session is scheduled to begin July 12.
The Legislature this year rejected several proposals for tackling rising medical malpractice-insurance rates, including a constitutional amendment backed by Gov. Dave Freudenthal, a Democrat, that would have allowed lawmakers and voters to consider limiting jury malpractice awards for noneconomic damages. The state constitution currently prohibits limiting lawsuit awards. While insurance companies say high damage awards for medical malpractice are responsible for rising premiums, opponents-including trial lawyers-say the main reason is insurance companies' stock market losses.
Calls for a special session began not long after the legislative session. In March, the Ohio Insurance Co. decided to stop providing malpractice coverage for doctors in Wyoming. Also, the Wyoming Insurance Department has approved a 13% rate increase for another medical malpractice insurer, the Doctors Co.