Conn. to Hold Med-Mal Rate Hearing Next Month

January 11, 2005

Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell has directed Insurance Commissioner Susan Cogswell to hold a public hearing on malpractice insurance rate increases, including one of nearly 90 percent, following requests from the state’s doctors, trial attorneys and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

According to Cogswell’s spokeperson, Kate Kiernan-Pagani, the insurance department will organize the hearing, with a target date of sometime in early February.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut State Medical Society and the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association have asked Cogswell to hold a public investigation of the 898.6 percent rate hike granted GE Medical Protective this past summer.

Rell asked for an informational hearing on all medical malpractice rates, not just on GE Medical Protective’s rate filing.

The rate hike for GE Medical Protective Insurance Company (MedPro) went into effect for physicians July 1, after it was cleared by the Connecticut Insurance Department.

However, last August the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association, joined by two consumer groups and an individual doctor, asked Cogswell to halt the increase and review what they maintain is an “excessive” and “unconscionable” price increase.

Cogswell agreed to hire an independent actuary to review the rates but has not held a public hearing as some had requested after the hike took affect.

The state medical society, in its most recent letter, urged Cogswell to open up hearings to doctors and the public because “many insured physicians have raised concerns as to the manner in which the rate was established by MedPro, especially in light of their reported loss ratio experience.”

The critics hired their own actuary to review MedPro’s filing. They maintain that the insurer did not use any of its own Connecticut or nationwide experience in establishing its latest rates, but instead referenced the rates being used by a competitor, Connecticut Medical Insurance Co., the state’s largest writer.

MedPro’s filing indicated that its own claims experience in Connecticut was too small to be reliable in rate-setting. The company writes only about 225 physicians in the state.

MedPro spokesman John Novaria said last fall that his company believes its request is “entirely justified” and would defend it and cooperate with the insurance department.

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