Governor Cuomo has submitted as part of the proposed budget for New York State a cap on compensation for victims of medical malpractice for their pain and suffering of $250,000. This mandatory cap will kick-in only after a doctor or hospital has been found guilty of malpractice that caused an injury to the patient. Therefore, it will punish only those patients who have meritorious cases. Those who are most seriously injured will be forever barred from seeking reasonable compensation from the wrong-doer and their insurance company..
Cuomo also is attempting to force the State Legislature to pass the budget, on an up or down vote, which also includes a fund, paid for by taxpayers but administered by the insurance-industry, that will decide the amount and extent that brain-injured children can receive medical treatment. Essentially he is gutting New York’s civil justice system and forcing brain-injured children and their families to become perpetual litigants against a fund that will control all aspects of their financial lives. This is being done in the name of “budget cutting” and “Medicare reform.” In reality, the cap will have the result of forcing more brain-injured victims of malpractice into the Medicare system. Meanwhile private insurance carriers, who insure hospitals and doctors, will no longer bear any real burden in compensating victims of their clients’ malpractice.
The following is an excerpt that appeared on March 7th, 2011, in CounterPunch and articulates why Cuomo’s cap must not become the law of New York:
“Many in the health care and insurance industry seem to regard the civil justice system as a nuisance that threatens to destroy our economy and way of life. In reality, America’s civil justice system plays an indispensable role. When the rights of injured consumers are vindicated in court, our society benefits in countless ways: compensating victims and their families for shattering losses (with the cost borne by the wrongdoers rather than taxpayers); preventing future injuries by deterring dangerous health care and other practices, spurring safety innovation; and educating the public to risks associated with certain products and services. These legal rights provide society with its moral and ethical fiber by defining appropriate norms of conduct.