Amendments to a proposed expansion to New York's wrongful death law have done little to persuade opponents on the measure.
State lawmakers this month have re-introduced a version of the measure that is meant to make it easier for a person to claim losses when a loved one dies. If made law, emotional anguish would be covered under the wrongful death provision and a broader set of people would be able to bring claims in wrongful death cases.
Gov. Kathy Hochul vetoed the legislation amid objections from medical groups, business organizations and local government officials who worried the measure would lead to higher insurance premiums and a raft of lawsuits.
A renewed version of the bill drafted this month was meant to address some of the concerns raised by Hochul in her veto message issued this year. The new bill has a shorter statute of limitations and includes a revised definition of who is eligible to bring wrongful death claims.
Supporters have included family members of those killed in a racially motivated attack last year at a Buffalo supermarket.
But this week, the Medical Society of the State of New York became the latest group to signal its continued opposition given the impact it could have insurance costs and health care more broadly.
“These costs would cause significant damage to our healthcare safety net, imposing staggering new costs for our hospitals, driving physicians out of state, and exacerbating the already challenging patient access to care issues we face, particularly in underserved areas," the group said in a statement. "Studies have shown that permitting the awarding of non-economic damages in wrongful death lawsuits, as this bill would do, will increase medical liability costs for hospitals and physicians by almost 40% when they already face outrageously high medical liability insurance costs that far exceed any other state in the country."
The Medical Society, along with a range of health care groups, wrote in a letter of opposition to lawmakers the new bill has done little to address their issues.
“We have great sympathy for the grieving families this legislation seeks to help," the group said. "However, the current legislation is completely one-sided. To protect our patients, any legislation to expand costly lawsuits must be comprehensive and balanced to help prevent the enormous adverse impact this bill would have on our health care system."