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Read Making a Killing

home / healthcare / press releases

NEWS RELEASE
Jan 16, 2003


CONTACT: Jamie Court - 310-392-0522 x327 or Carmen Balber - 310-392-0522 x324

Senator Feinstein Joins Bush, Ignores Data on Malpractice Caps

Proposition 103 Author Says Feinstein Sided With Insurers to Oppose Insurance Reform in 1988
Santa Monica, CA -- Harvey Rosenfield, author of California insurance reform initiative Proposition 103, said today that Senator Feinstein has betrayed innocent victims of medical negligence and ignored the facts about California's medical malpractice caps. Senator Feinstein joined with President Bush and the insurance industry today in calling for severe restrictions on malpractice victims' legal recovery. Rosenfield noted that in 1988 Diane Feinstein joined the insurance industry in opposition to Proposition 103.

"Senator Feinstein is a repeat offender in failing to protect insurance consumers and patients. She sold out California consumers when she opposed Proposition 103 in 1988 and now she is deceiving the nation by misrepresenting the facts about malpractice caps in California," said Harvey Rosenfield, author of Proposition 103. "The data show that after a decade with medical malpractice caps, doctors' premiums continued to rise in California. Only after the voters stood up to Feinstein and the insurance companies by enacting Proposition 103 did California malpractice premiums drop."

Data released in a report today by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) contradicts contentions by Senator Feinstein and President Bush that malpractice caps lower physicians' malpractice premiums.

The analysis -- available online at:
http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/healthcare/fs/fs003013.php3
-- compares the impact of the 1988 insurance reform (Proposition 103) on malpractice premiums, on the one hand, and the effect of 1975 restrictions on victims' recovery of non-economic damages (the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, or MICRA), on the other. Data show that:

- Medical malpractice premiums remained extremely volatile after MICRA and did not stabilize until Prop. 103 imposed rate regulation on the insurance industry.

- Overall, California malpractice premiums increased 175% during the first decade with MICRA and substantially decreased during the first decade of Prop. 103.

- After adjusting for inflation California medical malpractice premiums are down by 35% since the enactment of regulation.

Victim of Medical Malpractice Says President Bush Should Be Ashamed

At a press conference today, San Diego, California resident Kathy Olsen told the story of her twelve-year old son Steven who is blind and brain damaged because he was denied an $800 CAT scan when he was two years old. A jury awarded $7.1 million for Steven's lifetime of pain and suffering after determining that had the boy received the CAT scan he would be healthy today. However, the verdict, unbeknownst to the jury, was reduced to $250,000 by California's cap on malpractice verdicts.

"President Bush should be ashamed that he is recommending a national policy that limits my son to $250,000 for a lifetime of pain and suffering, regardless of a jury's judgment, while allowing insurance company CEOs to make millions annually without any accountability," said Kathy Olsen, who is also an FTCR board member.

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