Republicans May Propose Caps on Medical Malpractice Awards for Obstetrics, Rural Care
Congressional Republicans this fall may introduce legislation that caps medical malpractice lawsuit awards only in cases involving obstetrical care and medically underserved or rural areas, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports (Espo, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 9/3). Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Judd Greg (R-N.H.) said if the Senate this year does not pass legislation limiting damage awards in medical malpractice lawsuits, overall he would support a "more targeted" approach to help obstetricians and physicians practicing in underserved areas where physicians' earnings may not exceed malpractice insurance premiums, CongressDaily/AM reports (Heil, CongressDaily/AM, 9/4). Gregg said that while he favors malpractice legislation that Senate Democrats blocked in July that would have limited noneconomic and punitive damages at $250,000, the more limited legislation may have a greater chance of passage. However, even the limited bill could face a Democratic filibuster, as a report released last week by the General Accounting Office "seems likely to stiffen Democratic resistance" to medical malpractice reform, the AP/Sun reports (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 9/3). Contrary to the assertion by some physicians that high malpractice premiums make it difficult for consumers to obtain care, the GAO report found no evidence that potential medical malpractice lawsuits limit access to care on a widespread basis. While the report did uncover local problems in select specialties, the GAO report did not identify a national crisis because of medical malpractice (California Healthline, 9/2).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.