Senate debates medical malpractice caps

National Public Radio
Monday, February 23, 2004

RENEE MONTAGNE: The Senate today begins debate on a new bill that would cap some damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. This bill like one the Senate debated last summer isn’t expected to pass, but both sides hope to use it to score political points.

JULIE ROVNER: The bill that failed last summer would have capped damages for pain and suffering in all medical malpractice lawsuits at $250,000. Backers say that could help slow the rise in doctors’ malpractice insurance premiums. Opponents disagree. They say the problem is not high damage awards, but insurance industry gouging.


ROVNER: But opponents of the measure say women would be hurt, not helped if the bill were to become law. Joanne Doroshow is Executive Director of the Center for Justice and Democracy, a group that opposes capping malpractice damage awards.

JOANNE DOROSHOW [Executive Director, Center for Justice and Democracy]: It’s so discriminatory because if men are injured by malpractice, they have full legal rights. If women or babies are injured, their compensation is severely capped. It’s an incredibly unfair thing to do.

ROVNER: Doroshow says the real issue isn’t lawsuits; it’s politics.

DOROSHOW: I think what the Republicans are doing is trying to force votes and then trying to make the issue access to doctors and health care, which is really a deceptive thing to do because there is nothing in this legislation that will help doctors with their insurance premiums. There’s nothing in it that will provide access to healthcare to anybody.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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