Med Mutual’s $68.6 Million Surplus: Was There Ever a Medical Malpractice Insurance Premium Crisis?

The Baltimore Sun reports that the extension of a state program that subsidizes doctors’ malpractice insurance premiums is no longer in need considering a $68.6 million surplus reported by the state’s leading malpractice insurer, Medical Mutual Liability Insurance Society of Maryland.

Earlier this week, the new state Insurance Commissioner, Ralph S. Tyler, ordered Med Mutual not to proceed with plans to pay out the $68.6 million as a dividend until they determine how much should the State of Maryland receive to repay the $80 million paid out to subsidize doctors.

The Baltimore Sun reports that medical malpractice payouts in Maryland peaked in 2003 and have declined every year since 2003. The number of paid medical malpractice claims in Maryland has dropped 32 percent in the past three years, 50% more than the national average.

So much for the medical malpractice crisis that reached its apex two years ago when the Maryland legislature passed a bill to further limit the ability of medical malpractice victims in Maryland to receive the compensation deemed appropriate by Maryland juries.

We claimed during the “medical malpractice crisis” two years ago claimed that Med Mutual had cooked their books to make the numbers seem far direr than they were to elicit support for greater reform. Now that this appears to have been proven correct, shouldn’t we go back and reconsider the lowered medical malpractice cap in Maryland? The problem is that the politics of this is such that the pendulum never swings back toward victims’ rights.

Comically, the Maryland State Medical Society’s (MedChi) executive director, Dr. Martin P. Wasserman, said that while MedChi still intends to seek greater malpractice reform, he further stated, “I don’t think we’ll be able to come in and say, `The sky is falling.'” This is ironic coming from an organization whose motto has been “the sky is falling” on the issue of medical malpractice insurance premiums.

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