Medicaid malpractice limits likely in Florida, but nixed in New York

April 8, 2011

Florida doctors soon could soon be seeing caps on medical malpractice awards made to Medicaid patients, as the state legislature appears ready to approve a bill limiting damages paid by doctors and hospitals in such cases to $300,000.

Florida doctors soon could soon be seeing caps on medical malpractice awards made to Medicaid patients, as the state legislature appears ready to approve a bill limiting damages paid by doctors and hospitals in such cases to $300,000.

Meanwhile, New York state legislators have abandoned a bill that would have capped awards in Medicaid cases at $250,000.

Proponents in both states say that the limits would lower insurance premiums for healthcare providers. In New York, the limits and projected premium savings were being sold as a way to offset looming cuts in Medicaid payments to hospitals. Florida backers say more doctors will be willing to join Medicaid if their liability is limited.

Though at least 35 states have some sort of cap on malpractice damages, the debate over their impact continues. The Physician Insurers Association of America says premiums in California and three other states that had caps in place in 1991 rose 28% in the following decade compared to a 48% hike in states without limits. Independent studies have found that caps slow the growth in premiums, but not drastically.