Insurer Wins Round in Fight to Raise Rates

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The state's second-largest provider of medical malpractice insurance has won a preliminary ruling to allow it raise premiums by ten percent.

The issue has been watched as a test of the effectiveness of
2003 legislation and a constitutional amendment that limit damages
awarded in medical malpractice suits. They sought to lower soaring
insurance costs for doctors by reducing the number of lawsuits.

The Texas Department of Insurance has tried since May to block
GE Medical Protective Company's rate increase, which regulators
had called excessive.

But an administrative judge issued a proposed decision finding
there's enough competition in the medical malpractice market to
allow MedPro to set its own rates. That's the report in the Houston
Chronicle.

A spokesman for the state Insurance Department says it disagrees
with the ruling and will file exceptions to the judge's findings. A
final decision is expected in January, which will go to the
insurance commissioner, who can accept or reject it.