TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A law designed to ease Florida's medical malpractice insurance crisis was signed Monday by Gov. Bob Martinez, who called it a good faith effort to help provide medical care to the state's citizens.
The law, passed by the Legislature on Thursday, sets liability caps on some malpractice awards and strengthens the state's ability to discipline bad doctors.
The high cost of medical malpractice insurance premiums has been a concern in Florida for years.
In 1987, because of fear of lawsuits and of insurance costs driven up by large court judgments, some hospitals curtailed or stopped emergency room service and doctors in several specialties gave up their practices.
"Obviously, those who set rates are waiting to see how it does work, whether in fact it's to be legal or not, and for that reason I don't believe that by signing the bill into law that today or tomorrow morning we're going to get up and see a rate reduction," the governor said.
"Nevertheless, I believe that what was put into law is something that will lead to that. All it needs is a little bit of track history."
Federal surveys have shown southern Florida's rates to be among the highest in the nation.