Federal Medical Liability Tort Reform Legislation Passes U.S. House of Representatives
June 30, 2017
On June 28, the U.S. House of Represen-tatives voted 218 to 210 in favor of House Resolution 1215, the Protecting Access to Care Act, which would cap noneconomic damages in medical liability lawsuits at $250,000, among other provisions.
The Protecting Access to Care Act models the reforms found in California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) of 1975 — long considered the gold standard of state-level medical liability tort reforms.
In addition to imposing a nationwide $250,000 noneconomic damage cap in medical liability lawsuits, the Protecting Access to Care Act would preempt state laws governing healthcare lawsuits in the areas of statutes of limitation, joint and several liability, product liability and contingency fees. The legislation would establish:
• A three-year statute of limitations that begins, with certain exceptions, at the date of injury, not date of discovery.
• Replacement of joint and several liability with a fair-share rule, under which a defendant in a lawsuit would be liable only for the percentage of the final award that was equal to his or her share of responsibility for the injury.
• Sliding-scale limits on the contingency fees that lawyers can charge.
• A safe harbor from product liability litigation for health care providers who prescribe or dispense products approved by the Food & Drug Administration.
“This vote represents a major victory for tort reform advocates,” said Mike Stinson, vice president of government relations and public policy for PIAA, the medical professional and hospital liability insurance industry trade association, which played a leadership role in advocating for the Protecting Access to Care Act. “We are now one step closer to enacting federal medical liability reforms that will reduce the non-meritorious litigation that undermines the physician-patient relationship. This legislation will truly benefit both patients and healthcare professionals alike.”
A companion bill will next be introduced in the U.S. Senate.
NORCAL Mutual Begins Offering Medical Professional Liability Insurance to Connecticut Physicians
June 30, 2017
NORCAL Mutual Insurance Company will offer medical professional liability insurance to Connecticut physicians, beginning July 1, 2017. This is the latest market entry for NORCAL, which provides coverage to 36 states as well as the District of Columbia. NORCAL provides protection for medical professionals against risks associated with practicing medicine in today’s environment, including robust cyber liability and practice administrative defense insurance.
“We are excited to be able to offer medical professionals in Connecticut a new option for insurance with a financially strong company with national resources and local expertise,” Ron Rumin, senior vice president of business development for NORCAL said. “NORCAL has served neighboring Rhode Island for more than 20 years and we are looking forward to our expansion into Connecticut.”
A.M. Best Upgrades Credit Ratings of Some Members of Coverys Companies
June 30, 2017
On June 29, 2017, A.M. Best announced it has upgraded the Financial Strength Rating to A (Excellent) from A- (Excellent) of Medical Professional Mutual Insurance Company’s (ProMutual) wholly owned subsidiaries, MHA Insurance Company (MHA), Washington Casualty Insurance Company (Washington Casualty) and Preferred Professional Insurance Company (PPIC).
In addition, A.M. Best has affirmed the Financial Strength Rating of A (Excellent) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Ratings of ProMutual and its other wholly owned subsidiaries, ProSelect Insurance Company, Coverys Specialty Insurance Company, and its sponsored risk retention group, Coverys RRG, Inc. The credit rating outlook for the Coverys Group has been affirmed at stable.
According to A.M. Best, the rating upgrades for MHA, Washington Casualty and PPIC are due to their strategic significance and support provided by parent company, ProMutual. The ratings of ProMutual, which are based upon the consolidation of this company with its insurance subsidiaries, are reflective of its strong balance sheet, leading market presence in the U.S. medical professional liability (MPL) insurance sector and effective use of enterprise risk management.
“We were happy to learn the ratings for MHA, Washington Casualty and PPIC have been upgraded, and the ratings for ProMutual, ProSelect, Coverys Specialty and Coverys RRG were affirmed,” said Gregg Hanson, CEO and president of Coverys. “Coverys has a strong balance sheet and an investment portfolio that generates consistent investment income, contributing to positive net operating income and surplus growth.”