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Ricky Bagolie
Ricky Bagolie
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Another Attack on Victims of Medical Mistakes

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Republican lawmakers are gearing up to, yet again, further restrict the rights of victims of medical error as they will introduce Medical Malpractice legislation in the US Senate during the first week of May. Republicans must feel that restricting a patients rights is more important than dealing with Iraq, Iran, spying on US citizens, having government officials leak classified material and the highest gasoline prices of all time as they have nearly spent more time in the Senate helping rich doctors who injure their patients than on all of those other issues combined.

It is the same old story as, once again, without any hearings and without following normal Senate procedure, the Senate Majority Leader plans to bring to the floor a medical malpractice proposal with the same limits found in earlier bills: the same elimination of fundamental rights, and the same big protections for insurance companies, drug companies, and hospitals. Touted as a “new” proposal, proponents hope to trick Congress and the public into believing this bill is different than the bills the Senate voted on, but did not pass, three times in the last Congress. But nothing in this “new” proposal is actually new and nothing in the proposal would lower healthcare costs, increase the availability of affordable medical malpractice insurance, or make patients safer.

Senator Rick Santorum, the junior Pennsylvania Republican seeking re-election this year, told a group of politically minded doctors Wednesday that he and fellow conservative members of Congress “are going to go to war in Washington, DC, in about a month” in support of legislation aimed at creating a cap on non-economic damages. (The Legal Intelligencer, April 14, 2006)

The Bill would Specifically:

Establish a $250,000 cap on non-economic loss against doctors or hospitals. While disguised as a $750,000 cap, only $250,000 is available against an individual defendant.

Eliminate joint and several liability

Establish attorney fee caps

Virtually eliminate punitive damages

Preempts only state legislation more favorable to patients

Limiting compensation for serious injuries-such as the loss of a limb or sight, the loss of mobility, the loss of fertility, excruciating pain and permanent and severe disfigurement, or the loss of a child or spouse–is fundamentally unfair to injured patients and their families. It protects nursing homes that abuse their residents, HMOs that deny medical care to cancer patients and greedy drug companies that poison the people that take their pills. It must be defeated.

You Can Fight Back by calling your representative not to protect greedy insurance and drug companies and tell them to vote NO . You can also help support the organizations , such as the People Over Profits initiative of Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) that are fighting this bill.