GOP renews call for malpractice caps

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Republicans and doctors opened their latest battle against Democrats and lawyers in the war over medical malpractice reform Tuesday with a plan for caps on so-called pain and suffering damages. Opponents of the plan renewed their resistance.
Several Republican lawmakers revealed their plan in a statehouse news conference, calling for a $250,000 limit on pain and suffering judgments against doctors and a $500,000 cap for hospitals.

Amber Hard, spokeswoman for the Center for Justice and Democracy, a group opposed to capping lawsuits, argued that caps would not keep doctors in the state. The economic cycle affects doctors' insurance rates more than lawsuit payouts, she said. She added that capping the amount someone can collect after a medical tragedy infringes on patient rights.
Her organization is asking the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation - Division of Insurance to make available to the public the records of ISMIE, the largest insurer of medical liability for doctors in the state.
Hard said such information is public in many states and would allow patients to see the data used to set a doctor's insurance rates. In contrast, she said, the bill offered by the other side would actually make that information harder to find, setting a $50,000 fine for any Division of Insurance employee who shares that information.
"It is outrageous for ISMIE to propose taking away a patient's rights with damaging caps, while also proposing huge fines to hide information the public can use to see if (their doctor's) skyrocketing rates are justified in the first place," she said.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D

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