New Jersey State Bar Association - The voluntary Bar Association of New Jersey, serving members since 1899.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 06/09/04
CONTACT:Barbara S. Straczynski
Communications and Marketing Manager
732-937-7524

NJSBA President Edwin J. McCreedy Calls for Repeal of New Law and Investigation of Medical Malpractice Insurance Companies

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – New Jersey State Bar Association President Edwin J. McCreedy issued the following statement today in response to the public release of medical malpractice insurance information:

“Information made public by the Division of Consumer Affairs in response to legal action this week validates the New Jersey State Bar Association’s consistent position on New Jersey’s medical malpractice insurance “crisis”: (1) there is no crisis; and (2) lawyers are being unfairly blamed for doing their job and protecting legitimate victims of medical malpractice.

Despite claims to the contrary by medical malpractice insurance representatives to the Legislature, the recently released information reveals that pay-outs on medical malpractice insurance claims have actually decreased over the past two years. This aligns with statistics previously released by the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts, showing a decline in medical malpractice cases filed over the past six years. Both reports show a recent and steady decline in medical malpractice pay-outs and cases, which is consistent with previously enacted laws aimed at curbing medical malpractice lawsuits.

These statistics further illustrate the compelling need for a complete, comprehensive study of the medical malpractice insurance system, as the NJSBA has advocated for the past three years. Such a study must get to the root cause or causes of escalating medical malpractice insurance premiums and not just attempt a quick-fix to a problem that will continue to fester until a real solution is found.

Furthermore, the Division’s statistics call into question the need for the recently established Medical Malpractice Liability Insurance Premium Assistance Fund (the “Fund”) funded by assessments on various medical and legal professionals. In addition, businesses must also contribute to the Fund, resulting through a trickle-down effect, in an assessment on every employee in New Jersey. Not only will doctors be the beneficiaries of the Fund, but most significantly, so will medical malpractice insurance companies, including some that have doctors as primary stockholders. Given the medical malpractice insurance companies’ questionable candor and remarkable silence during legislative hearings and public debate, the legitimacy of the Fund is even more seriously flawed than we have previously claimed.

The New Jersey State Bar Association calls upon the Governor, the Legislature and the Attorney General to, with all due speed, refer this matter to the appropriate authority for a comprehensive investigation into the integrity of the information provided to the Legislature by medical malpractice insurance companies. Furthermore, the Association calls for the repeal of those portions of the "New Jersey Medical Care Access and Responsibility and Patients First Act" that establish the Fund until such time as a genuine need for such a fund can be adequately demonstrated.”

The New Jersey State Bar Association, incorporated in 1899, is dedicated to reforming and improving the legal system, to aiding in the administration of justice and to the continuing education of lawyers and the public.

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