Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich has called a special session of the Maryland General Assembly to deal with medical malpractice issues. It remains to be seen, however, whether the governor and legislative leaders can really agree on a plan.
The after-Christmas session is being called to deal with the issue of medical malpractice insurance.
A deal must be struck before Jan. 1, when premium payments are due to the Medical Mutual Liability Society of Maryland, the physician-owned company that insures most of the state's doctors.
Depending on what their specialities are, doctors could see their premiums go up by 33 to 75 percent. Some have reacted to the increase by scaling back their practices and by declining to do difficult procedures or operate on juveniles.
But some others have withheld payments, which must be made by Jan. 1 or the doctors' insurance will be canceled.
If that happens, it would probably result in the shutdown of the trauma center at Washington County Hospital, because there would not be enough insured physicians to staff it. And, doctors said, the hospital has already rejected the idea of physicians "going bare," or practicing there without insurance.