- Sarah Palin to campaign for Senate candidate Ben Sasse in Nebraska
- Boise business entices customers to come break stuff — ‘recreational destruction’
- Fired Yahoo exec’s $60 million golden parachute may be a record
- Arkansas gynecologist snapped nude photos of patients, police say
- Anthony Weiner on his current sexting habits: ‘None of your business’
- Producers eye Capitol Hill for latest reality TV hit
- No selfie awareness: Obama, Biden mug for Instagram as Ukraine implodes
- Putin to Snowden: We don’t collect droves of data on everyone like the U.S.
- Clemson football’s new opponent: Atheists upset with player prayer, Bible study
- Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s re-election launch party will be ‘history in the making,’ brother says
Committees to scrutinize tort reform
Mayor Anthony A. Williams’ plan to reform medical malpractice insurance must survive the scrutiny of several committees before it receives a full vote, council members said yesterday.
The mayor on Wednesday resubmitted a proposal to reduce doctors’ medical malpractice insurance costs by capping jury-awarded settlements and instituting other reforms.
Administration officials don’t know which panels will hear the Health Care Reform Act of 2005, but it likely will be assigned to the council Committees on Health, the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.
Chairman Linda W. Cropp, at-large Democrat, will make the determination, but her spokesman, Mark F. Johnson, said yesterday Mrs. Cropp was undecided.
“She is still looking at it because she wants to consider the matter carefully,” he said.
Council member Phil Mendelson, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said increased insurance rates aggravate the health care problem, but he questions who is responsible.
“I think there is definitely a problem,” said Mr. Mendelson, at-large Democrat. “But it is too simple to say that it is the fault of lawyers. … If there was never a mistake in the operating room, then insurance rates would be very low.”
Council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat and chairman of the Committee on Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, and council member David A. Catania, at-large independent and chairman of the Committee on Health, could not be reached for comment. Mr. Graham and Mr. Catania are lawyers.
Mr. Williams, a Democrat, says the insurance costs are forcing doctors to leave the city. Similar legislation he submitted in past years has been unsuccessful.
Mr. Williams said the legislation does not cap economic damages, but limits most pain-and-suffering payouts to $250,000 against physicians and to $500,000 against hospitals. The proposal, he said, also eliminates a patient’s ability to sue a doctor who provided free health care.
“If the council goes along with this plan, we will soon be able to make the city a better place for doctors to work and practice,” said Mr. Williams, who has law degree. “This bill is all about ensuring that our residents and visitors always get top-notch care and that our medical community can practice without undue burdens.”
K. Edward Shanbacker, executive vice president of the Medical Society of the District of Columbia, said the legislation is needed to retain doctors in the city. He said 61 physicians in the medical society have stopped providing obstetric care and 80 physicians still practice.
“At some point, we are going to have severe access issues and we think that day is coming closer and closer,” Mr. Shanbacker said.
A group of about 500 area trial lawyers opposes the plan.
“Placing a cap on damages does not promote good health care,” said Wayne R. Cohen, president of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C., and a law professor at George Washington University. “Instead, it simply immunizes those doctors who commit the most egregious malpractice.”
By John R. Bolton
Reality calls for attaching Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan
- 'Culture of intimidation' seen in Nevada ranch standoff
- Removal of military gear limits options for U.S., NATO in Ukraine
- Joe Biden's first Instagram pic mocked as shill for sunglass ad
- BOLTON: A 'three-state solution' for Middle East peace
- Rand and Ron Paul ride to the rescue for Bundy in Nevada standoff with feds
- IRS emails reveal discussion with Justice about suing nonprofits for election activities
- CURL: The state of the Union worse than you thought
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
- Cliven Bundy's Nevada ranch wrecked by retreating feds
- CNN op-ed claims right-wingers 'more deadly than jihadists'
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.