Senate To Debate Legislation To Cap Medical Malpractice Awards
The Senate on Tuesday is scheduled to debate an amendment to a generic drug bill (S 812) that would cap medical malpractice awards in lawsuits against doctors and insurance companies, CongressDaily reports. The amendment would limit punitive damages to twice the amount of compensatory damages, require 50% of punitive damage awards go to state activities and restrict attorneys' fees. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the amendment's sponsor, said, "This is very pro-victim, pro-consumer legislation." But Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said, "These caps only serve to hurt those patients who have suffered the most severe, life-altering injuries and who have proven their cases in court" (CongressDaily, 7/26). Last week, President Bush called on lawmakers to act on malpractice legislation, saying that unlimited awards increase health costs and force doctors out of business (California Healthline, 7/26). For instance, the trauma center at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas closed on July 3 for 10 days after staff resigned, citing rising medical malpractice insurance costs (Kanigher, Las Vegas Sun, 7/24).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.