Frist Announces Delay on Senate Bill on Medical Malpractice Liability
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) yesterday said that a Senate version of the medical malpractice liability bill (HR 5) passed in the House last month will not likely reach the floor for debate until later this spring, CongressDaily/AM reports (CongressDaily/AM, 4/2). The House bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim Greenwood (R-Pa.), would cap noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits at $250,000. The legislation would allow punitive damages of $250,000 or twice the amount of economic damages, whichever is higher. The measure applies to lawsuits filed against physicians, HMOs, pharmaceutical companies and medical device companies. In addition, the bill would allow state governments to increase or decrease the cap; the legislation would not limit economic damages, which include medical costs and lost wages. Frist had scheduled debate time on a Senate version of the bill last month (California Healthline, 3/14). However, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) last week withdrew support from a compromise Senate bill after the American Medical Association and the California Medical Association expressed opposition to the legislation. The compromise bill would cap noneconomic damages in malpractice lawsuits at $500,000 (California Healthline, 3/27). Frist said that he would continue to work with Feinstein and other Democrats to reach a compromise on the issue, which has stalled in the Senate over the past 10 years (CongressDaily/AM, 4/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.