Letters to the Editor

No cure for doctor shortage

The scam’s afoot on I-330. Citizens awash in misinformation think that passing this initiative will reduce their doctors’ malpractice insurance premiums and that doctors will be more available in rural areas. On the contrary, states such as Ohio, Texas and Missouri which already passed similar initiatives have found their malpractice premiums increase. I-330 does not prohibit premium increases.

Studies by consumer groups such as Americans for Insurance Reform or Center for Justice and Democracy show that malpractice insurance premiums are mostly determined by how well insurers are doing on their investments.  When they are flush with high earnings, premiums to doctors go down and they insure poorer risks. When their earnings are down, insurance premiums to physicians go up.

The myth promoted by the insurance industry to enable it to externalize costs to the taxpayers is that malpractice judgments are exorbitant, there are many “frivolous” lawsuits, and these drive up malpractice insurance rates. On the contrary, malpractice judgments represent less than two percent of healthcare costs, the percentage of suits is down, and suits without merit don’t make it to court. There is no validity to this argument.

Five percent of physicians are responsible for 54 percent of malpractice suits. I-330 does not broach this problem. Medical errors, which number tens of thousands annually, are also not mentioned in this initiative.  Were these problems both addressed by insurers and the medical profession, there would be fewer incidents of malpractice.

Perhaps the major flaws in I-330 are that it waives a citizen’s right to a court trial and that it caps damages at $350,000. How can $350,000 possibly cover the expenses of someone maimed for life by malpractice? Taxpayers will be paying for those victims in the long run. Court trial is a necessary right and safeguard that should be preserved. 

Defeat this initiative. It’s bad for your healthcare and could deny you your day in court should you ever need it.

Gena DiLabio


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