IFC wants the money back

The Interim Finance Committee on Wednesday demanded the university medical school repay money spent last fiscal year on malpractice "tail" insurance for doctors.

"Tail" insurance covers malpractice claims that arise from actions before the doctor left private practice and joined the medical school.

The issue was raised when representatives from the school asked permission to spend surplus in the account on malpractice insurance for doctors practicing at the school this year, saying it would be a significant recruiting tool that they had used last year.

That, however, raised the question of where they got permission to spend the money for that purpose in fiscal 2006.

"I may be new to the money committees but as I understand the budget, accounts are marked for what they can be used for," said Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas.

She said agencies can't change those uses without legislative permission and told Vince Johnson of the medical school that means they shouldn't have spent the $337,416 on tail insurance.

"We want the money back," she said. "Can we get a check by the end of the week?"

Assemblywoman Kathy McClain, D-Las Vegas said that raises the question as to whether the state and university system were picking up some new liability they shouldn't.

School officials said they would work with legislative staff to determine exactly how much the school might owe the state.

In other business, IFC:

• Approved the use of $608,960 in reserve funds to buy 23 new LiveScan fingerprinting machines for law enforcement agencies around the state. The old machines are out of date, out of warranty and breaking down too frequently.

• Authorized acceptance of $2.55 million in federal funds, restitution collections and interest money to cover payments to victims of crime through the end of the fiscal year. That program has run very low on money because of increases in the number of claims and the increasing cost of those medical claims in particular.

• Authorized the transfer of $3 million from the Department of Wildlife reserves to complete renovation of the Gallagher hatchery in Ruby Valley and make emergency repairs to the Lake Mead hatchery.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.


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