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N.Y. Gov. Spitzer focusing on med mal reform


NEW YORK--A potential crisis in the medical malpractice insurance market for physicians in New York state has triggered an effort by Gov. Eliot Spitzer to rein in the causes of high medical malpractice costs for all medical risks.

Gov. Spitzer's move--creating a multi-interest task force to study reforms in various areas, including risk management--comes on the heels of the New York Insurance Department's approval of a 14% increase in medical malpractice insurance rates for physicians.

The rate hike is designed to fend off what the department calls a potentially "irreversible crisis in an already severely distressed market."

Gov. Spitzer has appointed New York Insurance Superintendent Eric R. Dinallo to head the task force, which has been charged with recommending short- and long-term reform options for controlling the causes of high medical liability costs. The task force has been asked to consider risk management, legal and regulatory reforms.

The group will include the state's health commissioner; representatives of hospitals, physicians, insurers, health plans and consumers; and trial attorneys and state legislators.

The group's report is due by year's end.