Major Differences on Medical Malpractice Reform Still Exist

The Senate passed a bill Friday that still contains major differences from the bill the House passed Thursday.

Pediatrician Ivy Faske came up to the capitol from south Florida to watch the debate on medical malpractice reform. She 's mad that people think doctors are pushing for limits on malpractice lawsuits because they're trying to protect their own bank accounts.

“It's not that we're saying this is taking too big a chunk out of my earnings and therefore I can't afford all the luxuries. I can't afford to be giving people in my office raises, and paying my rent that keeps going up,” says Ivy.

But she's not sure whether limiting lawsuits will actually bring down her insurance premiums. The house version of the medical malpractice bill does not require insurance companies to reduce their malpractice premiums in exchange for tough new reforms, but the senate says it needs that guarantee.

“At the end of the day, we want the insurance companies to roll their rates back, that's what this is all about,” says Sen. Burt Saunders.

The senate also wants a maximum $6 million cap on pain and suffering awards in malpractice cases. The house says the limit should be $1 million.

Patti O'Regan, a nurse practitioner whose mother died after getting bad care, says the focus should be on bad doctors. Legislators now have just three days to find middle ground.

The Senate judiciary committee begins taking sworn testimony Monday to try to sort out the facts in the medical malpractice debate.