Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tort reform bills advance

The House Judiciary Committee yesterday passed out several tort reform measures, including HB 1784 HD2 RELATING TO MEDICAL TORTS that would set a maximum award limit on noneconomic damages. Award limits would be set by a medical malpractice task force. The measure also establishes a medical malpractice insurance premium rate and cap commission.

Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, believes that what was passed out of committee yesterday was “a delicate compromise between several parties on different ends of the spectrum.”

“We worked very hard on this compromised approach and believe that the measure we are moving out for the Senate to consider will not only keep the discussion alive, but also has an excellent chance of making some very meaningful reforms in the area of doctor recruitment and retention,” he said.

Tort reform has been a major and controversial issue at the legislature for several years. In past years, tort reform measures have not been able to amass enough votes to get through the Judiciary Committee.

Other measures voted out of committee with amendments include:

HB 1636, RELATING TO EMERGENCY MEDICAL PHYSICIANS, which grants immunity to on-duty emergency room physicians.

HB 310, RELATING TO MEDICAL TORTS. This bill authorizes the court to impose sanctions on a party whose rejection of the Medical Claim Conciliation Panel's decision resulted in a trial, and who, at trial, fails to improve on the panel's award by increasing or decreasing it by at least 30 percent.
All bills will go to the House floor for vote before being able to cross over to the Senate.

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