Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich is urging doctors and nurses to become “dangerous” in the fight for medical malpractice insurance reform.
Speaking at the Peninsula Regional Medical Center, the governor said the rising cost of malpractice insurance is the top health care issue in the state. He urged health care professionals to go to Annapolis and work to influence votes in the General Assembly.
“I’m asking you, for your own good, to become more dangerous in a political context,” Ehrlich said. “Make a member (of the legislature) understand an adverse vote will have adverse consequences.”
Ehrlich has said Medical Mutual, the state’s largest medical malpractice insurer, wants to raise its rates 40 percent this year, after a 28 percent increase for many Maryland doctors over the past year.
The increases are a result of increasing jury verdicts and malpractice settlements, according to Ehrlich. Over the last four years, the total amount paid out by Medical Mutual rose from $47 million to $74 million, and the number of payouts topping $1 million tripled, according to the governor’s office.
“The goal is for premium relief now so our best and brightest can continue to practice,” Ehrlich said.
Dr. Walter Lischick, a surgeon, said rising insurance costs will force doctors to leave the state. Physician recruitment also will suffer, forcing more patients to turn to overburdened emergency rooms for primary care, Lischick said.
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