A proposal to expand New York's wrongful death law is once again coming under criticism from medical trade organizations in the state as they push the Hochul administration for a veto.
The measure, approved by lawmakers earlier this June, would make it easier for a wider swath of people to bring wrongful death claims in a lawsuit, including for emotional damages.
Supporters of the proposal have argued it's necessary to update a century-old law and that move would benefit people of color who have struggled to bring wrongful death claims successfully in the past.
But a previous version of the measure was vetoed by Gov. Kathy Hochul amid concerns that had been raised by lawsuit reform groups, business organizations, local governments and the medical community. Changes made to the legislation have done little to quell that opposition.
An expansion of the wrongful death statute became more closely watched in the wake of a racially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo a year ago as victim family members filed suit.
In a letter from more than a dozen health care and medical groups sent this week to Hochul's top counsel, the administration is urged to once again veto the proposed expansion pointing to the potential impact on insurance rates in New York.
"The new bill does not address these fundamental concerns about the severe adverse impact of this legislation on our healthcare system or, for that matter, any other industry or municipality," the groups wrote.
Those urging the veto in the letter include the Medical Society of the State of New York, the New York American College of Emergency Physicians and the North East Regional Urgent Care Association.
Lawmakers this year made changes that were meant to nudge Hochul into signing the measure into law, including clarifying who can bring wrongful death claims.
"It is past time we make reforms and make certain New Yorkers who face this dilemma of having to go to court to seek redress receive the consideration they are due," said Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal earlier this year.
But the medical groups wrote that if enacted, recruitment of health care professionals to New York would be all the more difficult with already high medical premiums.
"Given New York’s State reputation for being one of the worst states in the country in which to be a physician, it is imperative we take steps to ensure that we can retain and attract skilled physicians to our state to best serve the healthcare needs of our patients," they wrote. "Unfortunately, this bill is only marginally different from the vetoed version."