Each encourage committee vote

TRENTON, N.J. – Marcus Rayner, executive director of the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance, and Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-13), a co-sponsor of the bill representing Monmouth County, released the following statement following last week’s Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee hearing, which posted A-1982 for discussion only:

“A-1982 concerns liability, standards of care, and insurance coverage for medical malpractice actions, and will provide for protections for doctors and healthcare providers, so that not as many frivolous lawsuits will be filed. 

“As we have heard from many doctors and healthcare providers, New Jersey’s ratio of doctors to patients has reached a crisis.  Of all the doctors that are trained in New Jersey, 60% go to other states once training is completed. The current gap between doctors and patients in New Jersey is 12 percent.  A study by the New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals estimates that New Jersey will be short an additional 3,000 doctors in the next decade unless comprehensive changes are made to our state’s liability system.  They just cannot afford to stay in New Jersey due to medical malpractice costs, on top of the high cost of doing business New Jersey. 

“Specialties which carry the highest premiums tend to disproportionately impact women, as New Jersey’s OBGYNs face some of the highest rates in the nation,” said Rayner.    Nearly 60 percent of OBGYNs have made changes to their practice during the last three years because of the high risk of liability claims, and many have either decreased the number of high-risk obstetric patients or have ceased providing obstetric care altogether. 

“One physician told of a case where a doctor, cited in a lawsuit, was out of the country when the incident occurred,” said Handlin.  “Physicians in New Jersey are the only Americans who are presumed guilty until proven innocent.

“I have been concerned about the loss of doctors, particularly OB/GYNs and general surgeons for some time,” said Handlin.  “This bill is the beginning of the crafting of laws to make New Jersey a favorable environment for doctors to practice.

A-1982 would:

  • Require that a provider had a relationship with a patient filing suit;
  • Prevents insurance carriers from raising malpractice premiums based on a claim of medical malpractice unless the physician is found liable;
  • Requires that physicians and healthcare professionals providing “expert testimony” be licensed in New Jersey;
  • Narrows the window for filing suit to not more than four years after the date the alleged incident occurred; and
  • Protects volunteer physicians acting in good faith from civil liability.