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NEWS
by TAMELA BAKER | March 16, 2005
tammyb@herald-mail.com ANNAPOLIS - The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday heard a series of bills to reform medical malpractice liability laws in Maryland, one of them providing comprehensive reform, but most dealing with one or another pieces of the malpractice puzzle. Those pieces include, among other things: · Requirements for expert witnesses in malpractice cases · Structured payments of damages in such cases · "Good Samaritan" protection for health-care providers in certain emergency situations · Caps on noneconomic awards · Caps on plaintiff attorneys' fees · Exclusion of an apology or expression of sympathy as evidence of malpractice The malpractice issue has been characterized as a battle between physicians and trial lawyers, and representatives of both packed the committee room to testify.
NEWS
June 22, 2004
Maryland's doctors and trial lawyers announced their proposed solution to the state's malpractice crisis last week - creation of a $25 million pool of state tax money to pay for insurance increases. Given Gov. Robert Ehrlich's opposition to any tax increase that could raise that much cash, the idea seems like a long shot. But the good news is that doctors and lawyers have agreed on something. The bad news is that the two sides don't have much time to decide on how to move forward.
NEWS
January 4, 2005
After the Maryland General Assembly passed a bill to reform the state's malpractice laws, a Hagerstown surgeon leading the doctors' lobbying effort said he would carefully study what lawmakers had done. Apparently Dr. Karl Riggle is a quick study. In a statement released this week, Save Our Doctors/Protect Our Patients, the group led by Riggle, pronounced the bill inadequate, but a step in the right direction. It will cut the doctors' medical malpractice insurance premiums from an average of 33 percent to 5 percent and trim damage awards.
NEWS
December 13, 2005
The malpractice insurance companies that operate in West Virginia are turning a profit and some are even reducing the rates they charge doctors. That was the message state Insurance Commissioner Jane Cline gave Sunday to a joint interim committee of the state legislature. It's time for Maryland to check out what the Mountain State is doing on this issue, to see if there's something worth copying. Cline told lawmakers that in the past year, three companies have filed to reduce the rates they charge doctors.
NEWS
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.
NEWS
December 16, 2004
Another shutdown of Washington County Hospital's trauma center? It could happen, according to Dr. Karl Riggle, if there is no action on the medical malpractice crisis by Jan. 1. While elected officials play their political chess game, seeking advantage in the crisis, physicians are planning to act in a way that will reduce the availability of medcial care. Gov. Robert Ehrlich and the Maryland General Assembly's legislative leaders must take action now to prevent that. The best chance for doing that is a freeze on malpractice insurance premiums due in January.
NEWS
July 9, 2004
On Wednesday, Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich again called for a special Maryland General Assembly session to pass a bill to fix what he said was a crisis caused by big hikes in malpractice insurance premiums. The only problem is that Ehrlich doesn't have a bill, or even the outline of one. And the only solution put forth so far - creation of a taxpayer-funded pool to help pay premiums - is one he's rejected. As we noted earlier this month, the two sides in this debate are far apart.
NEWS
February 4, 2003
Nine surgeons working in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle have pushed back a planned walkout until Feb. 15 so they can get more information on what state lawmakers are doing to deal with the rising cost of malpractice insurance. Legislators need to act quickly to prevent any interruption in medical care. A spokesman for the nine surgeons based at Martinsburg's City Hospital said that if the walkout comes, most would continue to run their private practices and make sure someone is available for emergencies at the hospital.
NEWS
by JULIE E. GREENE | October 9, 2004
Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich said Friday that he has asked House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. to meet with him Monday night to discuss the health-care crisis created by rising malpractice insurance rates. Ehrlich was asked about the malpractice issue after speaking at a ceremony on Friday at the Mack Trucks Inc. plant north of Hagerstown. Ehrlich said Busch and Miller want to meet with him to discuss the issue, but they had not been able to work out a date.
NEWS
January 7, 2003
Gov. Bob Wise delivers West Virginia's State of the State address tomorrow, with legislative leaders saying for the third straight year that they're in the dark about what Wise will propose. We hope legislators' sensitivity over this slight doesn't delay action on the session's top priority - finding a solution to the state's medical malpractice crisis. Despite pleas from state officials, doctors in the state's Northern Panhandle walked off the job recently in protest of soaring malpractice insurance rates.
ARTICLES BY DATE
NEWS
September 16, 2009
Do we really appreciate our doctors and nurses? To the editor: Well, I guess that if we are ever going to be sick about something, the health care overhaul is most appropriate. Yes, we need to change how health coverage is managed here in the U.S. As one who is uninsured, I know what the problems are. I owe medical bills. I desire to pay them. See, I figure that doctors earn their fees. They do - try spending a dozen years in college, only to be shortchanged, second-guessed and sued for malpractice, mostly because some people out there cannot accept that doctors are human and do make mistakes.
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NEWS
May 9, 2006
Each year following the close of the Maryland General Assembly session, the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce holds a post-session breakfast to allow the county's delegation to report on what took place. This year that event will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, May 10, beginning at 7:30 a.m. at Hagerstown's Clarion Hotel and Conference Center. No doubt many questions will be asked, but the most important one is: Assuming that matters stay as they are now - a Republican governor and a legislature dominated by Democrats - how can the two work together?
NEWS
by TAMELA BAKER | March 24, 2006
ANNAPOLIS The prognosis was poor for reforming Maryland's medical malpractice laws this year, and this week the House Judiciary Committee removed any form of life support from two of three bills sponsored by Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, to improve the state's malpractice condition. One of the bills would have imposed criteria for expert witnesses in malpractice cases and sanctions for frivolous suits. The other would have set up special courts for malpractice suits.
NEWS
March 23, 2006
It's an election year, so few political observers expected the Maryland General Assembly to take on anything controversial during this session. But if the legislature wants anybody to take seriously its claim to truly care about the public welfare, it must - at the very least - agree to a serious study and debate on medical malpractice issues in 2007. Without some action, Washington County will eventually have fewer medical professionals serving its citizens, who will be forced to travel to the metropolitan areas for their care.
NEWS
by TAMELA BAKER | March 15, 2006
ANNAPOLIS - Despite a special legislative session and the passage last year of legislation to establish a stop-gap fund to stem escalating malpractice premiums for the state's physicians, doctors say the state's malpractice climate has not changed. And in Washington County, the hospital staff picks up the slack for doctors who no longer exercise their hospital privileges, according to Hagerstown surgeon Karl Riggle. In testimony submitted to the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday, Riggle said more than 80 percent of the primary care physicians in Hagerstown no longer see patients in the hospital.
NEWS
By TAMELA BAKER | February 19, 2006
tammyb@herald-mail.com ANNAPOLIS - The General Assembly's leadership insisted last year they had provided the antidote for a medical community sick of mounting malpractice insurance premiums and demanding a cure. Physicians, on the other hand, have complained ever since that lawmakers had merely stuck a bandage on the issue, leaving the infection to fester. Many blamed party politics. Nevertheless, both the Senate and the House were faced with striking a balance between the physicians' concerns and the often emotional testimony of victims of some medical misadventure.
NEWS
by TAMELA BAKER | January 20, 2006
tammyb@herald-mail.com ANNAPOLIS - Gov. Robert Ehrlich dusted off a few vintage issues and formally added a major initiative targeting sex offenders to his legislative agenda for this year's General Assembly. As expected, Ehrlich included - for the fourth year in a row - a bill to legalize slot machine gambling in his legislative package, announced by his office on Thursday. And he included a promised bill to reform the state's medical malpractice bill. The package also includes the sex offender monitoring bills he announced earlier.
NEWS
by TAMELA BAKER | January 9, 2006
HAGERSTOWN tammyb@herald-mail.com Having achieved mixed results last year, a group of physicians will try again during this year's General Assembly session to get reforms to Maryland's medical malpractice laws. But even proponents of the reforms say they're seeking predict an uphill battle. The state's physicians are trying to win bipartisan support for what they consider key reforms, according to Hagerstown surgeon Karl Riggle, who with several other Western Maryland physicians formed "Save Our Doctors, Protect Our Patients" in 2004 after the state approved double-digit increases for malpractice insurance premiums for the second consecutive year.
NEWS
By Tim Rowland | January 1, 2006
Jan. 1 - Seeking to end skyrocketing malpractice rates, Maryland physicians march on Annapolis, offering to provide delegates with free brain surgery. Fresh from their new operations, Maryland lawmakers pass a tax on flushing the toilet. Jan. 3 - Williamsport Councilman James McCleaf announces he will run for mayor under the platform of "Let's see if we can get through one meeting without gunfire. " Scandal breaks out in Annapolis when a female lawmaker is accused of trading her vote for malpractice reform in exchange for a new set of breasts.
NEWS
December 13, 2005
The malpractice insurance companies that operate in West Virginia are turning a profit and some are even reducing the rates they charge doctors. That was the message state Insurance Commissioner Jane Cline gave Sunday to a joint interim committee of the state legislature. It's time for Maryland to check out what the Mountain State is doing on this issue, to see if there's something worth copying. Cline told lawmakers that in the past year, three companies have filed to reduce the rates they charge doctors.
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