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Monday, October 5, 2009

Lawmakers argue for JUA Raid

In the Concord Monitor, State Senators Deb Reynolds and Lou D'Allesandro make the case for the state's seizure of the surplus premiums in the Joint Underwriting Association. They are not convincing.
So let's look back at the role of the Legislature and its goals in creating the JUA- to preserve access to health care by providing doctors with a more affordable malpractice insurance option. This goal was accomplished, and premiums were set at a level to avoid undercutting the private market entirely.

Do we now use the excess that's accumulated in the JUA to pay a windfall dividend to lucky policyholders who already received malpractice insurance at fair market rates? Or do we reallocate the money for the very same public good - access to health care - that we originally sought to address by creating the JUA?
The only reason such a large surplus exists is because the state's insurance commissioner has refused to refund the excess premiums to JUA members, as established under the law, arguing that returning the excess premiums would disrupt the private malpractice insurance market. The state's case, which has already been eviscerated by Judge Kathleen McGuire, is that they needed the money to provide health care services. But there is nothing in the budget, other than some wishful rhetoric, to apply the JUA money towards health care programs. The Legislature took the money because it wanted it to balance the budget. Lawmakers have tried to justify the seizure of private property under the classic "We Know Better" defense.

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