N.J. Lawmakers Urged to Pass Med-Mal Reform

October 29, 2002

The New Jersey Hospital Association is pressing legislators to approve legislation to alleviate the state’s medical malpractice liability crisis.

Two measures, S-1902 and S-1977, are on the Committee’s meeting agenda. S-1902, sponsored by Sens. Joe Kyrillos (R-Middletown) and Bill Gormley (R-Mays Landing), aims to stabilize the medical malpractice marketplace and reduce premiums by capping non-economic damages, allowing payment of awards to be spread over a period of time, creating a pre-trial mediation process and tightening the affidavit of merit law. S-1877, sponsored by Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Cresskill), would require expert testimony by healthcare providers to conform to currently accepted medical standards.

In calling for the passage of S-1902 and S-1977, NJHA noted that California adopted similar reform measures in 1975. In the 27 years since then, California’s medical malpractice insurance premiums have increased 167 percent on average, compared with a national average of 505 percent. “That statistic tells us two things: New Jersey is not alone in this crisis and the California reforms work,” said NJHA General Counsel Betsy Ryan. “We urge members of the Commerce Committee to address this critical issue and advance these bills to give our state a fighting chance to reverse this crisis.”

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