PIACT Supports Conn. Bill on Health Care, Med Mal

March 5, 2004

The Professional Insurance Agents of Connecticut Inc. announced its support for House Bill 5204 and Senate Bill 60 when it recently provided written testimony to the Insurance and Real Estate Committee and the Program Review and Investigations Committee, respectively.

“PIACT supports both H.B. 5204, which represents a quick and appropriate reaction to the recent nullification of medical savings accounts in Connecticut and S.B. 60, which attempts to help address the problems relating to medical malpractice that currently exist in the state,” said the bulletin.

The announcement explained that “when the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act went into effect Jan. 1, 2004, it pre-empted all state laws regarding medical savings accounts and halted their use in Connecticut. The act created health savings accounts to provide people with high out-of-pocket health care expenses with a tax-advantaged way to pay for those costs. H.B. 5204 references the federal definition of a health savings account and would allow the benefit to be available to many of Connecticut’s citizens.”

“The bottom line with health savings accounts is that they enable more people and families to obtain health care at affordable prices,” stated Steven Imbriaco, Esq., government affairs counsel, PIACT. “Authorizing their use in Connecticut will give the state’s insurance producers another way to better serve the insurance-buying public.”

S.B. 60 aims to change Connecticut’s Malpractice Screening Panel, including its composition, procedures and obligations. The parties to a medical malpractice claim would be required to submit a complaint to the panel, unless all the parties agree to resolve the claim by civil action. “These changes could reduce the number of malpractice claims, making medical malpractice insurance more affordable and accessible in Connecticut,” said the PIACT.

The organization, however, has “some reservations regarding Section 13 of S.B. 60, which states that, ‘Each insurance company that issues a property and casualty policy in this state and issues a medical malpractice policy in any state shall offer for sale professional liability policies for medical professionals.'”

It noted that although “initially, it would seem that requiring insurers that write medical malpractice policies elsewhere to write them in Connecticut would help alleviate the current problem of availability of such policies,… the requirement could prove a disincentive to some general-lines insurance companies to continue offering coverage in Connecticut, and ultimately affect more and different types of risks as an unintended outcome of this requirement.”

“PIACT is more comfortable with the other changes in this bill, designed to address the claims process and ultimately the costs associated with medical malpractice actions,” Imbriaco continued. “This approach seems a safer way to address the current lack of competition and give companies that write medical malpractice an incentive to consider expanding into the Connecticut market as they see these changes bear fruit in terms of improved loss results.”

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