Maryland Senate President Thomas Miller Jr. asked for a special session this fall to look into creating a $50 million fund to help private insurers pay for medical-malpractice jury awards and settlements. His proposal comes as Medical Mutual Liability Insurance Society of Maryland, which insures about 75% of doctors in the state, seeks a 41% premium increase for 2005. A broad coalition previously proposed a state funding pool to address malpractice insurance problems.
Meanwhile, lawyers asked the Nevada Supreme Court to disallow a ballot initiative that would establish a fixed $350,000 cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases. The initiative, backed by the American Medical Association, also would limit attorneys' fees and allow awards of more than $50,000 to be paid in installments. A 2-year-old state law already imposes a $350,000 cap, but proponents of the ballot initiative claim the law contains too many loopholes and exceptions to be effective in controlling insurance costs. Opponents contend the initiative is unconstitutional and "Draconian," saying it would remove exceptions even for physicians who were drunk or on drugs while committing medical errors. Twenty-seven states now have caps on noneconomic or total damages, according to the AMA. -- by Tony Fong and Michael Romano