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Session Laws, 2004, Special Session
Volume 802, Page 111   View pdf image
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ROBERT L. EHRLICH, JR., Governor

H.B. 2

January 10, 2005

The Honorable Michael E. Busch
Speaker of the House
State House
Annapolis, MD 21401

Dear Mr. Speaker:

In accordance with Article II, Section 17 of the Maryland Constitution, I have
today vetoed House Bill 2 of the Extraordinary Session of 2004 - Maryland Patients'
Access to Quality Care Act of 2004.

INTRODUCTION

This extraordinary session of the General Assembly was called to address the
health care access crisis in the State resulting from the rise in medical malpractice
liability insurance costs. I appreciate the efforts of many members of the General
Assembly who are committed to enacting meaningful reforms. I know that there are
legitimate philosophical differences on this issue, and I want to thank all of the
members who came to Annapolis during the holiday season to work on this matter of
vital importance.

Unfortunately, the bill that has been presented to me fails to address the
underlying long-term problem, fails to contain adequate legal reforms, threatens the
stability of the State's largest insurer of physicians, threatens the existence of other
commercial medical malpractice insurers in the State, contains constitutional flaws,
has technical defects that will present major difficulties in implementing parts of the
bill, hinges on a harmful tax that will serve to increase the cost of health care, and
contains other policies which will harm the citizens, health care providers, and
insurers of the State. For these reasons I have no choice but to veto the bill.

BACKGROUND

I will address the above items in detail below, but I will first discuss the
background on this issue. There is no need to go into great detail on the problem. The
full panoply of health care providers in the State has been faced with extraordinary
increases in malpractice insurance premiums. These increases have been caused by
large verdicts (and the resulting large settlements because of these verdicts) in
medical malpractice cases. The result is that physicians and other providers are
electing to close or limit their practices, causing a crisis in access to health care in the
State.

During the 2004 session, I introduced legislation in the General Assembly to
address the looming crisis in health care access. This legislation was defeated in the
respective committees in both chambers. The House of Delegates did pass House Bill
1299 in an attempt to address some aspects of the problem and would have
established a task force to study and make recommendations concerning the issue.
This bill passed the House but was defeated in the Senate Judicial Proceedings
Committee.

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Session Laws, 2004, Special Session
Volume 802, Page 111   View pdf image
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