Republicans' latest strategy on medical malpractice caps: A few specialties at a time

Congressional Quarterly Weekly
Friday, February 27, 2004

The Senate once again is proving to be a graveyard for Republican proposals to cap damage awards in medical malpractice cases, despite GOP efforts to link the issue to women's health.

A motion to end debate on a bill (S 2061) limiting non-economic damages awarded in malpractice lawsuits against obstetricians and gynecologists fell well short of the 60 votes needed to allow the measure to proceed to a floor vote.

The 48-45 vote on Feb. 24 was largely split along party lines.


But the defeat of the motion to end debate on the obstetrician and gynecologist bill suggests that the other bills are probably doomed from the start.

Opponents of these measures say the GOP strategy is an election-year tactic that would do little to solve the problem of rising malpractice premiums. They say insurers are levying high premiums in order to recoup investment losses.

"The fact that they are bringing this up again proves it's just politics," said Joanne Doroshow of the Center for Justice and Democracy, a New York-based consumer advocacy group. "The Senate made it very clear last July they're not in favor of caps."

Republican lawmakers hope that repeatedly forcing votes on the issue will prompt some reluctant Democrats to drop their opposition, fearing that they otherwise will be depicted as jeopardizing patient care in some regions.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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