From physician to legislator: how one ob/gyn advocated forstate-level tort reform

May 1, 2006

Watching his state's medical care system crumble and many of hispartners shutter their practices spurred one Mississippi ob/gyn totake a personal stand on tort reform. His run for elected officewas successful-in more ways than one.

The insurance 'numbers' game

First, you need to know that the Center for Justice and Democracy is made up of people affiliated with Ralph Nader.1 Their spokesperson, Joanne Doroshow, said in a press release that, "today's liability insurance crisis for doctors is not caused by jury verdicts or the legal system. It is driven by the insurance industry's economic cycle that takes advantage of a weak economy to price-gouge doctors and make huge profits."2 That statement does not pass the "common sense" test. For several years, my policy was with The St. Paul Companies, but they pulled out of the market because they were losing too much money. [At one time, Mississippi had more than a dozen companies writing medical company liability insurance policies. We're now down to three:] One is the state-sponsored last resort, the second is a captive of the state medical association, and the third is a captive of the state hospital association. [All the commercial carriers left because they couldn't make a profit, yet my premiums remained high!]

Both Mark Twain and Benjamin Disraeli have been quoted as saying, "There are three kinds of lies, Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics." Mr. Angoff used statistics to support his contention that the medical malpractice insurance companies were making a lot of money from our premium dollars. Commenting on Mr. Angoff's report, James Copland of the Manhattan Institute said, "A look deeper into the numbers shows that, as usual, CJD (Center for Justice and Democracy) is 'creatively' using statistics to mislead its readers."5 Mr. Copland lists and discusses four points to debunk Mr. Angoff's report: