Senate Rejects Amendment To Cap Damage Awards in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
The Senate voted 57-42 yesterday to reject an amendment to a generic drug bill (S 812) that would have capped damage awards in medical malpractice lawsuits against doctors and insurers, CongressDaily/AM reports (Rovner/Fulton, CongressDaily/AM, 7/31). The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would have limited punitive damages in malpractice suits to twice the amount of compensatory damages, required that 50% of punitive damage awards go to state activities and restricted attorneys' fees (California Healthline, 7/29). Under the bill, non-economic damages would have been capped at $250,000 (Dewar/Goldstein, Washington Post, 7/31). The amendment was favored by Republicans, who maintain that many doctors have left certain states, retired early or dropped certain high-risk specialties because of high malpractice insurance premiums. Democrats, however, said that the bill "favored the insurance industry at the expense of victims" of malpractice (Carter, Associated Press, 7/31). President Bush last week called on Congress to cap malpractice awards (Hook, Los Angeles Times, 7/31).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.