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Musgrove: Mississippi must solve medical malpractice crisis

By Staff
QUIZZING THE GOVERNOR Gov. Ronnie Musgrove fields questions from doctors, hospital administrators and insurance agents on Friday about medical malpractice insurance. Musgrove spoke at Rush Foundation Hospital. Seated on the front row are, from left, Dr. Ken Carlson; Dr. William Billups Jr.; Dr. William Billups III; Dr. Brooks Gray; and Brooks' father, Lew Gray, an insurance agent. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star
By William F. West / community editor
Oct. 5, 2002
Gov. Ronnie Musgrove received an hour-long dose of comments Friday from Meridian doctors, hospital administrators and insurance agents about the urgency of medical malpractice reform.
Musgrove, who spoke and answered questions at Rush Foundation Hospital, told the crowd to send a message to legislators to send him a bill.
Lawmakers have been unable to compromise on a proposal to make medical malpractice insurance more affordable. The Legislature has been in special session since Sept. 5.
Musgrove called the session after insurance companies left Mississippi or raised rates because they fear multimillion dollar jury verdicts. Some doctors also have left the state and some clinics have closed because they can't afford insurance.
House and Senate negotiators will meet again Sunday to iron-out differences in separate medical malpractice proposals. The full Legislature will meet on Monday and could consider a compromise.
Musgrove's visit at Rush came after a stop at a Pascagoula hospital and a Hattiesburg clinic where he also spoke with health care professionals about malpractice insurance.
He made a similar visit Thursday to a hospital in Tupelo.
Musgrove spoke briefly at Rush before fielding questions at length during his visit. He took questions even as his staffers advised him he needed to finish the meeting.
Musgrove heard from doctors why the state needs to take action. If not, some said, residents will continue to see an exodus of younger doctors and early retirements of older doctors.
Dr. William Billups III, a surgeon, told Musgrove the situation is so bad that out-of-state doctors are being told to ignore his and his colleagues' telephone calls to relocate to Mississippi.
Legislation needed
Dr. Ken Carlson, an anesthesiologist, and his wife, April, told Musgrove they don't want to leave the state. Musgrove encouraged the Carlsons to stay and not give up.
Dr. Brooks Gray, a vascular surgeon, said he hopes legislators are listening and that meaningful reform is approved.
Dr. Anthony Thomas, a gastroenterologist, said people have to get behind Musgrove to push the issue. But Thomas expressed skepticism.

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