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Democrat floats plan on malpractic insurance

November 20, 2003
By: Aidian Holder
State Capital Bureau

A key Democratic lawmaker has waded into the messy debate over medical malpractice reform. Senator Jim Mathewson, a Sedalia Democrat, has announced a plan to give the state department of insurance the authority to regulate medical malpractice rates. Aidian Holder brings us the details on the Senator's plan.

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Senator Mathewson's plan would require the department of insurance give approval before insurance companies can increase their malpractice rates . . . and the bill stipulates that companies can increase their rates only in response to losses suffered by their insurance business in Missouri. Critics have frequently complained that insurers increase rates in response to losses suffered in other states or in the companies investment portfolio.

A bill aimed at bringing down malpractice was passed by the general assembly earlier this year, but it died with Governor Holden's veto. That bill would have limited medical malpractice lawsuits, but Republicans also included provisions that would have overhauled many other types of civil litigation.

Matthewson says public opinion won't allow for changing the rules of civil courts in the name of medical malpractice reform.

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Contents: Mathewson says trying to get a measure linking medical malpractice with overall tort-reform through the legislature will be like running into a buzz saw.

Prospects for Matthewson's plan may not be good. Republicans control both chambers of the state legislature, and they're plans for medical malpractice reform have included limits on lawsuits . . . not limits on insurance companies. But Matthewson says he thinks he can work both sides of the aisle and reach some type of compromise when the legislature convens next year.

Date:11/20/2003

By: Aidian Holder

State Capital Bureau

A key democratic lawmaker wades into the messy fight over the costs of medical malpratice insurance . . . announcing a plan to give the state more power over the rates insurers charge. Aidian Holder has more.

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State Senator Jim Mathewson, a central missouri Democrat, says that he wants to give the state's insurance department the power to regulate medical malpractice rates . . . He says that this along with limits on pain and suffering damages and some modest tinkering with the rules governing lawsuit will keep medical malpractice insurance rates down and keep doctors practicing medicine.

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FILL: Mathewson says his own physician has had to scale back his practice because of medical malpractice insurance costs.

But Mathewson's bill may not get far with the Republican controlled general assembly. Their approach to the problem includes limits on lawsuits, not limits on insurance companies.

From the State Capitol, I'm Aidian Holder