Wrongful Death -- Early 2024 Developments


The Wrongful Death bill has been proposed again, in a version that would change certain technical details but is still very similar to the one Governor Hochul vetoed on December 29, 2023.  A wrongful death claim is a claim against a person who can be held liable for a death; generally, survivors who have lost a loved one have only been able to recover for damages in the economic realm, but the 2023 Wrongful Death bill was designed to ease that limitation, so that survivors could recover for emotional anguish as well.  However, the bill was so broadly written that it would have had major detrimental effects on New York State’s municipalities, school districts, transit authorities, businesses and healthcare system, greatly affecting their budgets – particularly, their liability costs.  For physician practices and healthcare facilities, premiums might have been prohibitively high. 


The Governor did try to address some of these problems before she vetoed the bill; she suggested chapter amendments that would have set some limits on who could sue and under what circumstances.  She proposed (1) applying the law only to deaths of New Yorkers aged 8 and under; (2) removing a provision for retroactivity for existing lawsuits; (3) lowering the statute of limitations from three years to two; (4) rejecting new categories of family members eligible for damages; and (5) setting a sunset date of three years.  These limits might have helped to keep liability premiums from becoming astronomical.   But lawmakers rejected the compromise, insisting – despite data to the contrary - that the fiscal impact to state and local government would be “none.”


We  are grateful to everyone who communicated with the Governor late in 2023 and early in 2024, urging her not to let the bill survive in its end-of-2023 form.  We understand legislators’ concerns, particularly for low-income survivors, and will work to help shape a viable future proposal.  

This bill will be back in 2024. 

To send an instant message using MSSNY’s Grassroots Action system, click on:  Reducing Medical Liability Costs Must be a Critical Component of Wrongful Death Legislative Discussions (p2a.co).



Current issues with the Governor's NYS budget proposals - TAKE ACTION!


Fight Physician–Unfriendly Proposals in the Governor’s Budget: These proposals may be negotiating ploys, but they could also create real problems for physician practices and jeopardize patients’ access to community–based care. Among these proposals: (1) making physicians pay 50 percent of the Excess Medical Malpractice coverage cost; (2) repealing authorization for MSSNY’s Committee for Physicians’ Health (CPH) program; and (3) expanding the scope of practice of physician assistants, dentists and pharmacists. Please do two things: On March 12come with us to Albany for MSSNY’s Physician Advocacy Day – we’ll meet with legislators in person to talk about these issues; and right now, send instant messages to the legislators via MSSNY’s GAC (Grassroots Action System).  


Planning for March 12: We’ll be delighted to have you travel to Albany with us on our bus, or you can travel on your own and meet us there. In the morning we will hear presentations by Executive Division representatives (including New York State Health Commissioner Doctor James McDonald), the Assembly and Senate Minority Leaders, and the Chairs of the Senate and Assembly Health and Insurance Committees; in the afternoon we’ll go on our own prearranged, in–person small–group visits with Manhattan legislators. Breakfast, lunch and interesting colleagues provided. Our bus leaves Albany around 4:00 p.m.; we’re back in New York City by 7:00 p.m. View MSSNY’s flyer HERE. Bring your residents and students. Register HERE


Communicate with Legislators Right Now via Mssny’s GAC System: Tell them to oppose the elimination of CPH. For over 40 years, CPH has provided treatment for thousands of physicians facing behavioral health or addiction issues, and last year the Legislature and the Governor agreed to continue the program for five more years. Why are they turning around now? Click on: URGENT: Help Restore Funding for CPH Program. Tell legislators oppose huge new charges for Excess Layer coverage. The 15,000 physicians enrolled in the Excess Layer program would be required to pay 50% of the coverage cost — which, for many downstate physicians, would mean tens of thousands of dollars in new costs apiece. Click on  Reject Physician Cost–Share for Excess Medical Malpractice Insurance Program. Tell legislators to protect physician–led team care. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities should not be empowered to replace physicians; instead, the goal should be to increase the supply of trained primary and specialty–care physicians across the state. We must fight proposals in the Governor’s budget that would permit Physician Assistants (PAs) to practice without physician supervision or collaboration after 8,000 clinical hours if they practice in primary care or are employed by a hospital; permit dentists to perform screening tests for HIV, hepatitis and diabetes; and authorize pharmacists to dispense PrEP on a non–patient–specific prescription basis. Click on Preserve Physician–led, Team–Based Healthcare.