Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Legislators Ready to Try, Try, Try Again; Session a Third Crack at Malpractice Issue

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Legislators Ready to Try, Try, Try Again; Session a Third Crack at Malpractice Issue

Article excerpt

Byline: Sarah Skidmore, Times-Union staff writer

Lawmakers will return to Tallahassee tomorrow for a third try at finding a solution in Florida's medical malpractice debate.

Skyrocketing rates have made liability insurance expensive and in some cases impossible for doctors to find. As a result, some doctors have left the state or stopped practicing.

Insurance companies have said the legal system for handling malpractice cases is flawed, which is driving up rates. Trial lawyers have responded that doctors must be held accountable for mistakes.

During the regular session and two special sessions, the House, Senate and Gov. Jeb Bush have recommended their own reform packages but have been unable to resolve differences among them.

The House has passed a bill similar to Bush's recommendations, including a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages. The Senate has suggested a cap that would limit all damages at $1.5 million in most cases, though some victims could collect up to $6 million.

Slow progress has been made toward an agreement heading into the latest session, which is scheduled to end July 16. But lawmakers do not anticipate this session will be the final one, as several contentious issues remain. In anticipation of a lengthy debate, Bush has outlined several dates through the end of September for possible further sessions.

"There's always a possibility that we will walk away with a completed bill," said Sarah Bascom, spokeswoman for Senate President Jim King's office. "But as it stands now there still need to be some serious discussions."

Bush sent a letter to King, R-Jacksonville, last week that outlined the governor's problems with the Senate bill, including how bad-faith laws and capping non-economic damages were addressed.

But Bush also told the Associated Press that a $750,000 limit might be acceptable, hinting that a compromise on caps is possible.

King has said without the issue of caps the two chambers could reach an agreement within a day. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.