Frist's staff meets with malpractice reform opponents

Associated Press
Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Opponents of federal and state legislation to cap damages awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits brought their cause to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's hometown.

Members of the Center for Justice & Democracy had a closed-door meeting Monday with some of Frist's staff at his Nashville office after holding a news conference at Legislative Plaza.

President Bush has proposed a $250,000 cap to the pain and suffering portions of malpractice awards. Frist, the Senate's only physician, is backing the plan in Congress. Lobbyists in Tennessee are working on a similar proposal for the state legislature. 

Both sides said the meeting was a positive one, but Frist spokesman Nick Smith said the senate majority leader continues to agree with President Bush's plan.

"A priority of Senator Frist is to ensure patient access," he said.
John Rutherford, director of the public-interest lobbying group Tennessee Citizen Action, said opponents of the legislation "didn't necessarily make any headway on the issue."

At the news conference, victims of medical malpractice gave tearful testimony to their plight.

"I am a Republican, but I hate the bill President Bush is trying to pass," said Heather Van Winkle, a 24-year-old Knoxville woman who said she was left partially crippled by a knee operation.

Van Winkle said she can no longer act or model because of the botched surgery.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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