Malpractice-Cap debate spotlights women

Women’s ENews
Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Following a national campaign organized by powerful insurance interests and the American Medical Association, legislators in 30 states have considered medical-malpractice-reform legislation during the 2003 session, according to the most recent issue of State Health Policy Briefs, a quarterly publication of the National Conference of State Legislatures Health Policy Tracking Service. California, Nevada, Mississippi and Ohio have instituted caps. In Texas, voters face a Sept. 13 constitutional initiative on a $250,000 cap and the topic will be high on the agenda at the annual meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures in San Francisco July 21-25. Trial lawyers, meanwhile, have been pushing against the tide, saying it threatens to wash away an important safeguard against sloppy or incompetent doctors.

Whether there is such a crisis remains under debate. According to the Center for Justice and Democracy, the number of claims and payouts has been steadily falling. In Florida, according to the advocacy group, the average malpractice award in 2001 was $219,122, compared with $219,461 nationally. The national figures show the state's total malpractice awards have increased at a rate of just 1 percent a year. A comparable state database of malpractice payouts shows malpractice awards those same years dropping an average of 3 percent a year.

The cap is at issue, with the Republican-controlled House basically rubber-stamping the Republican governor's proposal three times this year so far, while the Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill that excluded the cap each time.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

Join Our Fight!

The Center for Justice & Democracy is the only national consumer organization in the country exclusively dedicated to protecting our civil justice system. If you'd like more information, please contact us.

Connect with us