Tort reform finally taking effect

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 4, 2006

Slowly but surely, the tort reform changes Mississippi has made in recent years have been helping the state&8217;s doctors.

The company that insurance a majority of physicians in the state just announced a 5 percent decrease in rates for the upcoming year &8212; along with a 10 percent refund on premiums from the current year. What&8217;s more, the insurance company is also accepting new applicants &8212; which bodes well for recruiting doctors to our community.

Those are big changes from the years before 2003, when the state Legislature began enacting tort reform legislation to cap medical malpractice damage awards. The legislation also protected doctors from patients who sued over medicines that turned out to be unsafe.

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Those changes, coupled with the publicity of the convictions in a crackdown on malpractice fraud in Jefferson County, have put the rest of the nation on notice that Mississippi is making vast improvements in its tort system.

But that doesn&8217;t mean the changes have gone far enough.

Mississippi should continue to evaluate how the tort reform changes are affecting physicians, as well as how tort reform can also help small businesses in our state.

The tort reform effort showed what can happen when different groups in our state &8212; such as doctors and chambers of commerce &8212; lobby for change. It was tough finally getting the Legislature to agree to make changes, but the results have proven to be satisfying not only for doctors but for the entire state.