Sen. Ensign Introduces Federal Malpractice Award Cap Legislation

Senator John Ensign, R-Nev., has introduced the Medical Care Access Protection (MCAP) Act of 2007, which would set a cap on non-economic damages in medcial mapractice lawsuits.

“Medical liability reform works, and it’s turning the tide against frivolous lawsuits and outrageous jury awards,” said Ensign, who is a veterinarian. “We’ve seen it in California, in Texas and in my home state of Nevada, where the number of medical malpractice lawsuits has decreased drastically. 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.”

His bill is co-sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

The MCAP Act calls for setting a cap on non-economic damages and providing for unlimited economic damages. Under Ensign’s bill, a patient would be able to recover up to $250,000 from a healthcare provider and up to two healthcare institutions each for a total of $750,000. Injured patients would therefore be awarded non-economic damages totaling $750,000.

There would be no limits on economic damages that may be incurred over one’s lifetime, such as loss of employment and past and future earnings.

The bill also would place limits on attorneys’ fees and includes an expert witness provision to ensure that relevant medical experts serve as trial witnesses instead of so-called “professional witnesses.”

“So long as there are women in this country who fear giving birth in their cars before they make it to a hospital because their local obstetrician couldn’t afford liability insurance, we have a crisis,” said Ensign. “Obstetrics is just one area in which doctors have been driven out by ridiculous medical liability costs. We must take control of this system and put the priority on the patients and their access to health care.”

This legislation is modeled after medical liability reform enacted in Texas in 2003.
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