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Florida Special Session

The big guns in the medical malpractice debate at the capitol were on the hot seat Monday. The Senate Judiciary Committee is taking the unprecedented step of making people testify under oath about the real causes of Florida's malpractice insurance crisis. Senators think they've been getting bogus information from all sides.

For months you've heard about Florida's medical malpractice insurance crisis, and how doctors are leaving their practices in droves because of skyrocketing insurance premiums. Now, state senators want the truth.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is drilling everyone from state officials to medical professionals in an effort to get the real numbers behind the crisis. Lawmakers say a lack of consistent information behind the medical malpractice crisis is a big reason they're bogged down in a series of special sessions.

Judiciary Committee chairman, Alex Villalobos, says special interests have been feeding lawmakers bogus information. Already, testimony shows the state has no evidence of a surge in frivolous lawsuits and doctors are not leaving the state in droves. In fact there are more now than there were five years ago.

At least some of the people testifying say the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing is more for show than to get real information, but Florida insurance council spokesman Sam Miller says sometimes hearing what you've already been told helps you make up your mind.

With some important testimony only muddying the waters, lawmakers may just end up further apart in their effort to resolve the problem.

Prior to Monday's hearing, both house and senate say they were moving closer to agreement on medical malpractice reform. The special legislative session to adopt a reform law is supposed to end at midnight Wednesday.


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