Clash Over Medical Malpractice Insurance Rates

Some Florida legislators call it the toughest issue they have ever had to face. The issue is medical malpractice reform, and it came to a head when the two sides met at the capitol Monday morning.

"We believe now as we always have that a cap on non-economic damages is the single most important step to meaningful health care reform," says John Thrasher of the Coalition to Heal Healthcare.

Monday morning, physicians, lobbyists and healthcare workers held a rally on the old capitol steps to raise support for Gov. Jeb Bush's medical malpractice reform bill, a bill that caps damages at $250,000.

Many doctors say without this protection, Florida's healthcare system could collapse.

"The moment I set foot in the state of Florida my malpractice premiums doubled, six months later they doubled again. So in less than a year I've had a 400 percent increase in my premiums and as a young recently trained physician I'm seriously considering leaving Florida," says Dr. Andrew Borom.

Opponents to the governor's bill marched on the capitol and crashed the Monday morning rally. They say 15 Floridians die every day due to malpractice, and that a cap protects insurance companies at the expense of patients.

"The insurance companies have sat back in the wings and allowed the doctors and the other providers to become unpaid lobbyists and use scare tactics by threatening increases of premiums and so forth so that we could lose our providers in this state,” says Jacqueline Imbertson of Floridian’s for patient Protection.

"That $250,000 really doesn't compensate for all those activities that you were planning on doing in your life," Fabiola Armitage says.

The special session is slated to last through Thursday, but could be extended if no compromise is reached.