Fitch Ratings Affirms ‘A’ Ratings, ‘Stable’ Outlook for The Doctors Company Group

April 30, 2020 by matray

Fitch Ratings has affirmed its "A" (Strong) Insurer Financial Strength ratings for The Doctors Company and its wholly owned subsidiaries, collectively referred to as The Doctors Company Group. Fitch also announced that the rating outlook for all ratings is "Stable."

The ratings are based on Fitch's current assessment of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, including its economic impact.

Fitch noted that The Doctors Company has a strong business profile as the number two writer in medical professional liability insurance in the United States. The Doctors Company is one of the few companies in its industry positioned to meet the trend of healthcare providers moving from independent and smaller group practices to employment with hospitals and larger medical groups, Fitch noted.

Fitch commented that The Doctors Company's year-end 2019 capital position "was very strong" and also pointed out that the company's loss reserve position is a positive factor to the rating.

The "A" with "Stable Outlook" ratings include:

The Doctors Company, an Interinsurance Exchange
TDC Specialty Insurance Company
TDC National Assurance Company
The Doctors Company Risk Retention Group, a Reciprocal Exchange

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The Doctors Company Hires New Top Claims Executive

April 28, 2020 by matray

The Doctors Company announced the hiring of Marco Spadacenta to be senior vice president of claims, effective April 27. In his new role, Spadacenta oversees the claims function nationally of the admitted medical professional liability (MPL) unit, reporting directly to Robert White, executive vice president, MPL.

Spadacenta most recently served as senior vice president of the healthcare malpractice claims department for AIG, overseeing all healthcare malpractice claims in the U.S., beginning in 2011. He had been with AIG since 1997.

“We are pleased to have Marco join our leadership team,” said White. “With 30 years of litigation and claims management experience, he brings in-depth industry claims knowledge and courtroom insight. He lives the values we aspire to as an organization to protect the practice of good medicine.”

Spadacenta held several executive claims positions with AIG, including senior vice president of the asbestos claims department, where he oversaw large-scale, complex asbestos-related losses, as well as post-9/11 exposure claims. Prior to that, he served as vice president of the toxic tort claims department, handling claims involving asbestos, benzene, tobacco, silica, clean room, pharmaceutical/nutraceutical, medical equipment and chemical exposure pending nationwide. Before joining AIG, Spadacenta practiced law in the New York City area for seven years, defending bodily injury claims in the general liability, medical malpractice, maritime, aviation, complex tort, product liability and auto sectors.

“I am honored to lead The Doctors Company's claims efforts at a time when healthcare in the United States is in the midst of a seismic shift,” Spadacenta said. “Understanding malpractice claims trends is critical now more than ever, particularly with the rise in the severity of verdicts. I am proud to join a company that is known for analyzing its claims, sharing this data to advance the practice of good medicine, and relentlessly defending its members should litigation arise.”

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Health Coalition on Liability and Access Announces 2020 Board of Directors, Executive Committee

April 24, 2020 by matray

The Health Coalition on Liability and Access (HCLA) announced the organization's Board of Directors and Executive Committee members for 2020, following the annual meeting held earlier this month.

As Sustaining Members of the HCLA, Board seats were granted to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons/Congress of Neurological Surgeons, the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the American Medical Association, the Cooperative of American Physicians, MLMIC Insurance, the Medical Professional Liability (MPL) Association, NORCAL Group and Physicians Insurance - A Mutual Company.

The American College of Surgeons and American Hospital Association were confirmed as Contributing Member Representatives, and the American Osteopathic Association, as a Regular Member Representative.

The Board of Directors elected the following representatives to serve as Officers and Executive Committee Members for the year:

• Mike Stinson, MPL Association - Chair
• Katie Orrico, American Association of Neurological Surgeons – Vice-chair
• Catherine Hayes, American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons – Secretary
• George Cox, American Medical Association - At-large Executive Committee Member

"Given the particularly heightened awareness of the need for medical liability protection in the wake of a global pandemic, I am thankful for the opportunity to continue to advance the HCLA's agenda by reducing medical lawsuit abuse through comprehensive action at the federal level," said HCLA Chair Mike Stinson.

The HCLA will also be working through its focus committees on specific initiatives. Elizabeth Healy of The Doctors Company will serve as Legislative Committee chair, Dr. Stuart Weinstein, M.D. will continue as spokesperson and lead the Public Affairs Committee, and Simit Pandya of the MPL Association will lead the group's Grassroots Committee.

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Institute for Justice Calls on States to Allow Nurse Practitioners to Help with COVID-19 Relief

April 17, 2020 by matray

The Institute for Justice (IJ) sent open letters to six states calling on authorities to suspend requirements that nurse practitioners may only work in hospitals under the supervision of a physician. The supervision requirements in California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia prevent many nurse practitioners from helping patients in overburdened hospitals, even as volunteers.

“Physician supervision requirements are completely unnecessary and are hurting states’ efforts to respond to COVID-19,” said IJ senior attorney Erica Smith. “Nurse practitioners want to be able to volunteer now, but they are getting caught in red tape.”

Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia do not require any supervision for nurse practitioners or only require supervision at the beginning of their careers. The remaining 22 states impose myriad restrictions ranging from requiring limited supervision for only certain types of practices to requiring full-time supervision. California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia have some of the strictest physician supervision requirements in the country.

Multiple organizations and individuals, including the U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services, have called on states to lift restrictions on nurse practitioners during the pandemic. And many have. Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Wisconsin have already loosened or lifted supervision requirements.

“At a time when we need healthcare workers, many states have lifted unnecessary restrictions on nurse practitioners,” said IJ special projects manager Kendall Morton. “Unfortunately, some states have done nothing. The Institute for Justice hopes that our open letters will spur these states to take action.”

Multiple studies, including an extensive 2018 report from the Brookings Institution, have found that empowering nurse practitioners could have significant benefits for healthcare efficiency without sacrificing quality of care.

Nurse practitioners across the country have struggled to find physicians to supervise them to work for a variety of reasons. Some physicians are unable to supervise nurse practitioners because of limitations in their medical malpractice insurance, while others cannot take on additional responsibilities during this chaotic time. In addition, nurse practitioners must often pay physicians thousands of dollars for supervision.

The Institute for Justice (IJ) is a national nonprofit organization that has worked to remove and reduce licensing restrictions for 30 years, including in medical professions. IJ has sued several states regarding regulations for certificates of need, telemedicine and physician dispensing of medications. It drafts model legislation and advises state legislatures on licensing matters nationwide. According to IJ, the letters are part of its overall efforts to respond to the current health and economic crisis by working to cut red tape hampering individuals’ ability to help one another.

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AM Best to Host Free Webinar on the State of the U.S. Medical Professional Liability Sector

April 16, 2020 by matray

AM Best will host a complimentary webinar on April 28, 2020, at 10 a.m. (EDT). AM Best analytic personnel and insurance industry leaders will review the state of the U.S. medical professional liability insurance sector. The panel will examine financial results, underwriting, loss trends, regulatory and industry developments, along with developments among alternative risk providers. The discussion follows the publication of AM Best’s annual special report on the state of the medical professional liability market.

Register now: www.ambest.com/webinars/MPL20.

Panelists include:

• Sharon Marks, associate director, AM Best;
• David Blades, associate director, AM Best;
• Brian Atchinson, president and chief executive officer, Medical Professional Liability Association;
• Jim Hurley, consulting actuary, Willis Towers Watson; and
• Joseph G. Murphy, chief operating officer, Coverys.

Attendees can submit questions during registration or by emailing webinars@ambest.com. The event will be streamed in video and audio formats, and playback will be available to registered viewers shortly after the event.

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MICA Declares $12M Dividend to Help Policyholders Through COVID-19 Pandemic

April 16, 2020 by matray

Mutual Insurance Company of Arizona (MICA) announced that its Board of Trustees has declared a special dividend to provide economic relief to its members.

The company will distribute a $12 million dividend to all members with policies in-force as of April 30, 2020. The dividend will be credited to policyholder accounts on June 1, 2020.

“We have been closely monitoring the evolution of this pandemic and stand to support our members who face unprecedented practice challenges and economic hurdles. Like many other businesses, healthcare practitioners throughout Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and Utah are feeling the broad effects of this pandemic,” said Ron Malpiedi, senior vice president and chief operating officer. “MICA’s financial strength allows us to respond with this special dividend to our policyholders with great confidence.”

“It’s no secret that the healthcare community at large has been called to the frontline of this pandemic,” said James Carland, MD., president and chairman of the board. “While we give thanks and commend the men and women working countless hours to care for their patients, we are also aware that physicians and surgical groups in private practice are experiencing economic fall-out and pain. Working under these conditions creates increased stress and concern for potential liability exposure. As a physician-run mutual insurer, it’s our responsibility to assist our members in maintaining proper medical professional liability coverage to alleviate stress and to help ensure the sustainability of our profession.”

In addition to this special dividend, MICA is waiving cancellations for non-payment of premium until June 30, 2020.

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MagMutual Rolls Out Discount Plan for Policyholders Impacted by COVID-19

April 14, 2020 by matray

MagMutual announced new premium discounts on medical professional liability policies as they renew next year for policyholders who experienced lower patient volumes in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Discounts will extend through to 2023 policy renewal period.

“This COVID-19 crisis has altered the way our country is delivering healthcare,” said Joe Wilson, MD, executive chairman of MagMutual. “And because of these changes, many of our policy owners are seeing fewer patients and doing fewer elective procedures. As a mutual company, we believe our policy owners should not pay the same amount of premium when they are caring for substantially fewer patients.”

The company intends to file these discounts with the respective states’ Departments of Insurance during April 2020. Upon approval, MagMutual will inform its policyholders of their new rates at renewal. The premium discount is in addition to the company’s recently announced nine-month payment deferral option.

“This means that over a three-year period, in effect, we ensure our policy owners do not pay for the exposures they did not experience due to lower patient volumes,” said Neil Morrell, CEO of MagMutual. “Coupled with our payment deferral options, our discounted premium rates also mean than the cash flow of the policyholders more reasonably follows their expected billing cycles, as they resume to normalcy.”

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MagMutual announces nine-month policy premium payment deferral option for medical professional liability policyholders

April 14, 2020 by matray

MagMutual announced that its medical professional liability policyholders can defer their premium payments for nine months. The premium deferment option is available to existing and new policyholders. At the completion of the nine-month period, policyholders will then have the option to spread out their outstanding balance over their subsequent renewed policy period. The company would like to thank the Georgia Department of Insurance for expeditiously supporting this initiative.

“We understand that our policy owners are likely to be experiencing more stress, anxiety and financial burden than usual,” said Joe Wilson, MD, executive chairman of MagMutual. “We want to do what we can to alleviate one of the concerns they may have, and help in our small way.”

Interested policyholders are advised to contact their sales representative or insurance agent. More information, including details of the program and applicable conditions, are provided on the company’s website, www.MagMutual.com.

As the situation currently appears, the company expects to keep this relief in place for all of 2020.

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Protect Patients Now Needs Your Help to Protect Patients, Healthcare Providers on Front Lines of COVID-19 Pandemic.

April 14, 2020 by matray

The following is a Legislative Alert from Protect Patients Now:

Protect Patients Now needs your help to protect patients and the healthcare providers that are working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Healthcare professionals and facilities are facing challenges, unlike anything in our modern medical history. They put themselves at risk each day while facing workforce shortages, inadequate safety supplies, and insufficient information or changing guidance from federal, state, and local government officials. Despite this, they continue to go above and beyond, doing everything possible to treat the sick and bring comfort to others, often without regard to their own personal wellbeing.

At the same time our healthcare professionals and facilities are answering the call to service, they are simultaneously threatened with future lawsuits based on circumstances that were beyond their control.

That’s why Congress must now act to provide them relief from the threat of lawsuits. Taking action to protect these professionals and facilities, as well as the patients they serve, is in the Nation’s best interest.

But we need your help! Please take a moment to urge members of Congress to follow the lead of several states, and immediately adopt legislation that provides health care professionals and facilities ​civil liability immunity ​for their good faith efforts to treat patients during the COVID-19 response.

Action at the federal level would provide a uniform level of protection and avoid the situation whereby a patchwork of liability laws across the country would lead to unequal treatment of our frontline healthcare providers and facilities during this national crisis.

Patients and physicians can click the links below to let their members of Congress — in both the House and the Senate — know how important it is to preserve continued access to medical care during this unprecedented time. This will allow healthcare providers and facilities to focus on the task at hand of helping those affected by the outbreak without having to worry about the threat of lawsuits.

Thank you for your continued support of medical liability reform.

Physicians: Take Action

Patients: Take Action

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California Orders Medical Malpractice Insurance Companies to Refund Premiums Affected by the COVID-19 Emergency Where Appropriate

April 13, 2020 by matray

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara ordered insurance companies to return insurance premiums to consumers and businesses and provide much-needed financial relief during the COVID-19 emergency. The Commissioner's Bulletin covers premiums paid for at least the months of March and April — including the month of May if “shelter in place” restrictions continue — in at least six different insurance lines: private passenger automobile, commercial automobile, workers' compensation, commercial multi-peril, commercial liability, medical malpractice and any other insurance line where the risk of loss has fallen substantially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Commissioner's Bulletin requires insurance companies to provide a premium credit, reduction, return of premium or other appropriate premium adjustment as soon as possible, and no later than August 2020.

A premium refund will not require prior approval by the Department of Insurance if an insurance company follows certain methods outlined in the Commissioner’s Bulletin, such as using an average percentage based on estimated change in risk or exposure. Consumers will also have the opportunity to provide their individual actual or estimated experience to their insurance company.

Commissioner Lara also ordered insurance companies to report back to the Department of Insurance all premium refunds they have issued or expect to issue within 60 days, in order to provide oversight and ensure companies are complying with the Bulletin.

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