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Medical Malpractice Insurance Crisis

Angry doctors say they're tired of waiting for the legislature to get its act together and pass medical malpractice insurance reform. Key lawmakers are meeting at the capitol this week to try to hash out a final agreement, but the governor has yet to reschedule this week's cancelled special session. Everyone is frustrated by the delays, but lawmakers insist they need more time to do it right.

Dr. Richard Christopher doesn't understand why lawmakers haven't come up with a way to bring some stability to Florida's medical malpractice insurance system. The small-town doctor says he can't afford the out-of-control rates, and he lives in constant fear that a lawsuit will destroy his livelihood.

“There's no other profession in this country in which you have to get up every morning worrying about the next shoe going to drop, are you going to get sued?” he says.

Doctors sent a stack of more than a thousand sworn statements to the capitol to prove the insurance crisis is causing them to give up high-risk care, like delivering babies, brain surgery and being on-call for emergency rooms.

Spokeswoman Sandra Mortham wants to know why lawmakers are dragging their feet.

“This is not a new issue. These are not new phenomenons to everyone in the last two weeks, and what we're saying is, it's time,” she says.

Lawmakers say it's not as easy as just "getting the job done." The governor and key negotiators say they're getting closer, but they're still not getting the answers they need to put the final bill together. A meeting with a state insurance expert left lawmakers and the governor with even more questions. They blame the lack of concrete information for the drawn-out negotiations.

“I wish we could just cut a deal and move on. This is not my idea of fun, this is complicated stuff," Gov. Bush says.

The question remains whether they can find a solution soon enough for doctors and patients caught in the middle. The Florida Medical Association had planned to stage protests in front of senators' district offices on Monday, but the FMA decided to call off the demonstrations at the request of Sen. Tom Lee, one of the key negotiators on the medical malpractice issue.


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