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Miami-Dade legislator finds UM move 'extremely troubling'

The chairman of Miami-Dade’s legislative delegation has sent a blistering letter to the University of Miami, saying he finds it “extremely troubling” that the UM medical school does not plan to share its savings from a new sovereign immunity legal status with cash-strapped Jackson Health System.

Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera wrote to UM President Donna Shalala after a Nov. 13 Miami Herald article quoted William Donelan, the medical school’s chief operating officer, saying that he thought it “an extraordinarily odd notion” that UM should share its savings gained from sovereign immunity, which protects UM doctors practicing at Jackson Memorial from large malpractice judgments. The Legislature granted UM’s request for sovereign immunity this year, with the strong backing of Jackson and county leaders.

“The legislation was never designed to be an economic windfall for a private medical school or its parent university,” Lopez-Cantera wrote in the Nov. 16 letter. The delegation worked for the measure “under the constant assumption” that both UM and Jackson would benefit, he wrote.

Shalala’s response on Monday: “The law is not a windfall to the university.”

In the letter to Lopez-Cantera, she wrote that the savings, which might take years to quantify, will be used to offset the medical school’s huge losses in serving Jackson.

In his letter, Lopez-Cantera accused UM of saying something different when the proposal was still under consideration by the Legislature: “As the legislation moved through the process, advocates for the bill including the University of Miami claimed that ... the proposed changes would greatly benefit both the university and Jackson Health System through savings in malpractice insurance premiums.”

Full story from John Dorschner here.