Drop Shows Tort Reform is Working
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 20, 2007
Michigan State Medical
East Lansing, Mich.
– A clear indication that Michigan's 1993 tort
reforms are working is that the state's largest
physician medical malpractice insurer is cutting its
premiums by 12 to 25 percent for Wayne County
physicians, Michigan State Medical Society announced
The average decrease for all
physicians in Wayne County will be 13 percent
beginning January 1, according to American
Physicians Assurance Corporation, a medical
liability insurer based in East Lansing that is a
wholly-owned subsidiary of the publicly held
American Physicians Capital, Inc. (APCapital).
Statewide, American Physicians'
malpractice insurance rates will be reduced by an
average of 6.5 percent in 2008.
"Michigan's carefully designed tort
reforms do not deny a truly injured patient from
just compensation," said Sophie J. Womack, MD, a
Detroit neonatalogist who serves as president of the
Wayne County Medical Society of Southeast Michigan
and as a member of the MSMS board of directors. "The
reforms have helped reduce the 'lottery mentality'
of each mal-occurrence, or bad outcome, from
becoming a lawsuit."
"Let me put this in perspective,"
said Robert J. Jackson, MD, an Allen Park family
physician and a member of the American Physicians
Advisory Board. "Rates for my specialty, family
practice, will go down 14 percent. Nothing in the
overhead costs of my practice is going down, except,
unbelievably, the cost of my malpractice insurance.
"If this isn't evidence that
Michigan's tort reforms are working, I don't know
what is," Doctor Jackson said.
Doctor Jackson said that
obstetricians will see a 14 percent reduction and
orthopedic surgeons will see a 25 percent reduction.
"Even neurosurgeons, who perform very
high risk procedures, will see a 12 percent cut,"
Doctor Jackson said.
Since the tort reforms went into
effect in 1994, each component of the legislation
has withstood constitutional challenges from the
trial bar, according to Doctor Womack.
Unfortunately, tort reforms in Illinois were
overturned on November 13, prompting the Illinois
State Medical Society to issue a news release
stating that the "verdict could derail health care
"Over the past 13 years, the Michigan
Supreme Court has supported the obvious intent of
Michigan legislators to improve the medical
liability climate in our state so that their
constituents, our patients, will be able to have
access to the physicians they want and need," Doctor
Previously, many physicians who
practiced in high-risk specialties such as
obstetrics, neurosurgery, and orthopedic surgery
often left Michigan for states where lawsuits were
not as frequent and jury awards were not as high.
"The news about medical malpractice
rates announced today certainly is good news for our
efforts at the Michigan Health Council," said MHC
vice president Susan Sanford, who heads a program
called "Practice Michigan." "We believe that
improvements to Michigan's practice environment will
directly correlate to our success in recruiting and
retaining physicians here."
Michigan is a more favorable place to
practice than many neighboring states, Doctor
He said a neurosurgeon practicing
today in Detroit pays a manual rate of $201,512 for
a $1 million/$3 million policy, while a colleague in
Chicago, where tort reform was just overturned, pays
$256,404 – a difference of $54,892.
As part of the 1993 tort reforms, the
licensing fee that physicians pay to the state was
tripled. The extra money was earmarked for the
Attorney General's office to conduct investigations
of patient complaints against physicians.
During this same time period, roughly
the past two decades, a nationwide movement also has
been underway focusing on risk management education
for physicians and their practices, as well as on
patient safety and quality initiatives throughout
the U.S. health care system.
"The bottom line is that all of these
efforts have improved patient access to health care
by limiting the exposure to unjustified lawsuits.
They also have improved the overall health care
system," Doctor Jackson said.
The mission of the Michigan State
Medical Society is to promote a health care
environment that supports physicians in caring for
and enhancing the health of Michigan citizens
through science, quality, and ethics in the practice
of medicine. To learn more, visit