(KCPW News) A medical malpractice bill that’s been assigned and reassigned to three different committees is finally moving forward to the Senate Floor. The Senate Natural Resources and Agriculture committee approved the bill aiming to reduce frivolous medical lawsuits this morning after a short presentation and little public comment. The lack of controversy came as a surprise to Senator Allen Christensen.
“I’m absolutely astounded that you could all come together at least as close as you are on this. I told the UMA when you started, I said, ‘You’ll never get there… it’s not possible,’” said Christensen.
The bill passed out of committee was a compromise that appeased the concerns of attorneys who represent physicians and patients in malpractice suits. The most notable difference is the omission of a cap on attorney fees and changing when an affidavit of merit is needed for medical malpractice lawsuits.
The original bill required an affidavit from a third party medical professional before filing a malpractice lawsuit. Under the compromise, however, the affidavit is only required if a pre-litigation panel finds a lawsuit to be frivolous. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Stuart Adams says reducing the cost of frivolous lawsuits is a vital component of health reform.
“I think the idea is, with no question about it, what they’re trying to do is reduce the health care costs. And if you can find those cases that are non-meritorious and again those that are filed without merit, or those frivolous lawsuits, you can reduce those health care costs,” said Adams.
First Substitute S.B. 145, “Medical Malpractice Amendments” passed out of committee with a four-to-one vote. It now goes to the Senate floor for further consideration.