Gov. Bush is calling legislators back to Tallahassee for a four-day special session beginning June 16 to overhaul medical malpractice liability insurance.
Doctors say skyrocketing malpractice insurance rates are driving them out of Florida and leaving patients with nowhere to turn, but attorneys for injured patients fear the governor's proposed reforms will hurt even worse.
Doctors around Florida have closed their practices, or threatened to, if lawmakers don't act to bring down medical malpractice insurance rates. Now, Gov. Bush is calling legislators back in session to fix a system he says is in crisis.
“I'm hopeful that in the special session that we can accomplish this, but if we don't, they'll be back, and if they can't get it done the second time, they'll be back again,” says Gov. Bush.
The governor's proposed reform includes a controversial $250,000 limit on lawsuits for pain and suffering caused by medical malpractice.
Victims and their loved ones rallied at the capitol all spring to fight the caps. Patricia Vincent’s son was left comatose after what should have been routine surgery.
Doctors and insurance companies support the governor's plan, but victims were noticeably absent. Attorney Debra Henley says the plan shows no compassion for the victims.
“The bill that he is proposing will devastate their rights and will make it very difficult for them to bring legitimate medical malpractice lawsuits,” says Debra.
Gov. Bush says he's gotten a promise from the medical malpractice insurance companies that they will roll back their rates if his reform bill passes, but there's nothing about a roll-back in writing, and Gov. Bush won't say how much of a rollback he's been promised.
Without a guaranteed rate reduction, the reform plan will likely be a tough sell to the legislature.
Thursday’s call for a special session follows Wednesday’s announcement of a proposed constitutional amendment drive to cap lawyer fees in malpractice cases.