TMA Supports JUA's Ability to Write New Business

On Oct. 5, TMA sent a letter urging Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) Commissioner David Mattax to prevent the Texas Medical Liability Insurance Underwriting Association (JUA) from suspending the writing of new business. The JUA, established in 1975, is "critically important as a last stop gap to assure that licensed physicians and health care providers are able to continue to provide medical and dental care for their Texas patients," TMA wrote.

In the letter, TMA General Counsel Rocky Wilcox argues that the state's rapidly growing physician workforce, economic uncertainty, and regular cycles in the liability climate all demand that the JUA remain open as the insurer of last resort. "Physicians are not able to contract with a network or have privileges in a hospital without medical professional liability coverage," Mr. Wilcox wrote. "Therefore, they would not be able to effectively practice medicine." 

Commissioner Mattax conducted a hearing on the question Oct. 17. The issue arises due to a law passed last year, which TMA supported, that would use some of the JUA's reserves to finance a permanent trust fund for graduate medical education programs.

The 1975 legislation that created the JUA "enacted the right of associations such as TMA to sponsor self-insured trusts as another means of solving the insurance availability and affordability problems" of physicians at the time. Under the law, TMA sponsored the creation of Texas Medical Liability Trust, which provides coverage to qualified TMA members.  

The letter asserts TMA's strong belief that the JUA is "still necessary and its authority to write new business should not be suspended." TMA writes that uncertainty in the medical professional liability insurance market, the worldwide market, medical professional liability court decisions, the political and economic environment, and the tort legal environment could affect physicians and could "cause some insurers to be more restrictive in underwriting."   

TMA says few liability insurers offer occurrence or claims-made policies, which the JUA provides. "Occurrence policies are an attractive alternative to some physicians in some specialties where there is a 'long-tail' on claims, such as pediatricians, obstetricians, and other providers treating young children."

TMA's letter concludes by requesting TDI "find that a necessity still exists for the JUA to be able to continue to write new business."

Action, Oct. 14, 2016 

Last Updated On

October 25, 2016

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