DEMOCRATS BLOCK ENSIGN MEDICAL TORT REFORM AMENDMENTS TO HEALTH REFORM BILL

Finance Committee amendments would have included medical liability reform in bill


Washington, DC- Senator John Ensign, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, today authored two amendments to include medical liability reform in the massive healthcare reform bill that the Finance Committee is currently working on – reform that would stem the exodus of physicians and doctors from the industry due to the high cost of practicing medicine.  Even though the Finance Committee had considered similar amendments in the past, Democrats refused to take up the measures and dismissed them on procedural grounds.
 
“As we work on a comprehensive healthcare reform bill, one of our primary goals must be to enact meaningful medical liability reform,” said Ensign.  “It’s been a crisis driving doctors out of business for too long.  It’s time to protect patients across the country and ensure access to quality health care.”
 
The amendments called for comprehensive medical liability reform by setting a reasonable cap on non-economic damages while still providing for unlimited economic damages.  Under Ensign’s amendments, a patient can recover up to $250,000 from a healthcare provider and up to two healthcare institutions each for a total of $750,000.  Injured patients can therefore be awarded non-economic damages totaling $750,000.  There are no limits on economic damages that may be incurred over one’s lifetime, such as loss of employment and past and future earnings.  The amendments also would have limited attorneys' fees and included an expert witness provision to ensure that relevant medical experts serve as trial witnesses instead of so-called “professional witnesses” who are used to further abuse the system.
 
Ensign’s second amendment would have incentivized states to enact or maintain medical tort reforms with increases in the FMAP formula for two years for children.