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Letter to the Editor: Malpractice is a shell game

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

To the editor:

Your article about doctors leaving Illinois and moving to Missouri for the lower malpractice rates shows the fallacy of Dr. Scot Pringle's letter.

The insurance industry is orchestrating a shell game, cloaking itself in the misfortunes of doctors. At the end of the veto session last year, Gov. Bob Holden invited doctors and trial lawyers to meet to try to resolve problems in the system. The doctors refused to come.

Doctors have a legitimate complaint about the absurd increases in their rates, but gutting the tort system is not the solution. Trial lawyers have said they are willing to approve new laws correcting a recent court case which changed the definition of coverage, something neither side had ever considered.

Missouri has had a cap on noneconomic damages since 1986. That amount has been adjusted for inflation. This means any insurance company could calculate and charge premiums consistent with those caps. Instead, we are getting misinformation that no one can calculate what the cost will be because of gigantic verdicts. Something does not add up. Insurance companies, which typically invest their premiums in the stock market subject, have been hit hard and are trying to steal the rights of innocent victims to cover their losses.

Nothing in the proposed reform will guarantee that insurance companies will adjust their rates down or even hold them accountable.

Any voter who hears "We need this to protect business" had better check his wallet, because you can bet this progress is on his back.

MICHAEL H. MAGUIRE

Cape Girardeau