Press on Malpractice

Physician's Money Digest, March31 2005, Volume 12, Issue 6

With larger Republican majorities inboth houses of the US Congress, thechances of passing federal legislation todeal with the medical malpractice crisisseem better, but physicians are alsolooking at the changing political landscapein individual states to stump forreform at the local level.

In Missouri, for example, MattBlunt, the newly elected Republicangovernor, has made malpractice reformone of his administration's top priorities.Since the previous governor hadtwice vetoed reform bills passed by theMissouri legislature, the state medicalassociation is hopeful that a reformpackage will get signed into law thistime around. In Maryland, where areform package has already been passedby state lawmakers but faces a veto bythe governor over a 2% tax on HMOpremiums, both the state medical societyand the state hospital associationare united in urging the governor tosign the bill.

At the top of the agenda for physicianpolitical action groups lobbying state legislaturesis a cap on noneconomic damages,similar to one in the landmark Californiamalpractice law that has been in place for30 years. The California law has served asa model for malpractice legislation passedin several states and has also provided theframework for proposed federal legislationthat has passed the US House severaltimes but has been shot down in the USSenate each time.