A veteran state senator pushes for comprehensive medical malpractice reform. Senator Jim Mathewson (D-Sedalia) says too many doctors are either scaling back their practice or leaving the state, because of soaring medical malpractice insurance rates. His bill would give the State Insurance Director authority to approve rate increases, Mathewson reasoning someone has to play the judge. Mathewson’s bill puts pressure on the insurance companies to keep rates low and deals only with medical malpractice. The Republican leadership favors full tort reform, putting pressure on trial attornies to prevent large civil judgments. Mathewson, a Democrat, doesn’t mind that approach, but notes it didn’t work this year. Governor Holden, a Democrat, vetoed the bill. Mathewson says he announced his plan early to send a message to Missouri’s medical community that the legislature understands the problem and is working to fix it. He says he’s heard the stories of doctors either scaling back their practice or leaving Missouri due to rising medical malpractice insurance premiums. Mathewson’s bill also would establish a Patients’ Compensation Fund to pay malpractice claims exceeding a policy’s liability limit and would issue tax credits of up to $10,000 for 10% of a malpractice insurance policy’s annual premium increase.
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