For the second straight year, New York Governor David Paterson signed legislation to freeze medical malpractice insurance rates. He said last year that the freeze allows clinicians to continue providing care “without getting suffocated by more back-breaking fiscal burdens.”

In the meantime, legislative negotiations continue. According to the New York Trial Lawyers Association, the administration proposed a 6%-7% reduction in clinicians’ premiums, setting up new patient safety provisions, helping the handful of malpractice insurers take excess liability off their books, and re-establishing an assessment so all the state’s property and casualty companies would support the malpractice high-risk pool, not just those few writing malpractice insurance.

However, the proposal was put on hold after the collapse of the financial market and troubles at insurance giant AIG.

The Medical Society of New York State claims that the system needs to change to relieve the “horrendous burden of medical liability premiums” that clinicians face.

A recent report from the New York Public Interest Research Group showed 2,000 to 2,400 malpractice payments in New York each of the past 15 years, with payouts of $743 million in 2008.

The report said less than 7% of some 62,270 New York doctors accounted for half the total payouts.