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Sen. Miller and malpractice

November 30, 2004

Today Maryland Senate President Thomas V. "Mike" Miller will be the guest of honor at a luncheon sponsored by the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

Miller, a key figure in every legislative session, is the focus of even more attention now because, as a trial lawyer, he's perceived as blocking reforms that would hold down medical malpractice premiums.

Killing reform quietly will be harder to do in this session, as doctors focus attention on their plight - and what it could mean to patients.

The advocates for reform should expect two things. The first is that no comprehensive solution will happen quickly. The best doctors can hope for this year is a "stop loss" fund that will temporarily ease their cost of their premiums.

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The second is that the first stab at comprehensive reform will be imperfect. But to oppose a solution because it's imperfect would be to take a chance that nothing would be accomplished.

Once a piece of legislation is on the books and it begins generating positive results, amendments can be offered in future sessions to make it work even better.

If this sounds like a pessimistic assessment, it is, to a certain extent. If you start with a Democratic legislature, then add a Republican governor who is not a master negotiator, it follows that progress will be hard to achieve. We urge all parties not to oppose the progress that can be made in a quest for an immediate and perfect solution.

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