Contact Governor Hochul on Veto for Wrongful Death – We’re Part of a Statewide Effort!

As you know, Governor Hochul did veto this past spring’s Wrongful Death bill (formally titled the “Grieving Families Act,” but the legislature went right back and put together another bill (A.6698/S.6636) which contains just a few changes and could be just as harmful to the medical profession (and the public) as the original version. Medical liability premiums could go up 40% - a serious threat to independent practices, hospitals, large groups, and other care settings. Could you please call the Governor and urge her to veto the bill – and encourage your staff, colleagues and family to call too. Details:

What is the issue with Wrongful Death (A.6698/S.6636)? This legislation would greatly expand liability (premiums could go up 40 percent); our healthcare system – hospitals, physician practices and other community-based providers - could be hit hard, with patients’ access to care in jeopardy.

How do I telephone the Governor? Dial (518) 474-8390. You can select Option 1 to leave a compelling voicemail or Option 2 to connect directly with the Governor's staff. (Be sure to identify yourself, and state where you are from.) Multiple calls help. Have staff and family call too! Volume is essential.

What do I say? I am urging Governor Hochul to veto the Grieving Families Act.

Earlier this year, the Governor vetoed a version that could have had a serious impact on our healthcare system, greatly expanding liability (more categories of people could receive awards).

The new bill is only marginally different. It would still include non-economic damages, greatly expanding the damages awardable in a wrongful death action and leading to significant increases in premiums.

Both versions of the bill run completely counter to what the Governor did regarding the State Budget: In the Budget negotiations, she fought for substantial investments to help support our healthcare safety net. This bill would completely undo those positive steps by putting grave new financial pressures on the providers.

The bill should be re-drafted so it can protect our patients’ continued access to our healthcare system.

Background Points:

  • This bill’s provision for non-economic damages is why studies have shown it would lead to a nearly 40% premium cost increase. Our healthcare system is already under enormous stress. New York physicians and hospitals face by far the highest medical liability insurance costs in the country.
  • There would be a huge impact on such specialties as OB/GYN. Already, medical students cite high liability costs and fear of being sued as reasons for not training as OB/GYNs.
  • This bill could affect employed physicians as well as those practicing independently. It’s true that employed physicians do not pay for their own medical liability insurance; but by affecting the financial stability of employed physicians’ institutions, the bill could jeopardize their jobs. Businesses and municipalities would pay higher premiums for their liability insurance too.