A four-day special session aimed at solving the high cost of medical malpractice insurance has begun in Tallahassee. The House and Senate remain far apart on how to solve the problem, the two sides are so far apart and an extension or another costly session is likely.
House speaker Johnnie Byrd’s smiling picture graces literature sent to thousands of doctors. It was sent by the Florida Medical Association and urges the docs to join the FMA to help solve the medical malpractice problem. The speaker says he likes doctors.
"I like my family doctor, I want him to be able to keep practicing in Florida," says Byrd.
The speaker also endorses the $250,000 cap on pain and suffering the doctors and insurance companies want. On the other side are injured patients, lawyers and the majority of the state Senate. Patients like Gary Susser came to make the point that limits are unjust. His son Adam was injured at birth when doctors were unavailable.
"Went to the hospital, her doctor was out of town, they stalled four days after her water broke,” Susser.
As the Senate began the special session, it was considering a floating cap and a host of alternatives to caps, including a plan sharing the costs between doctors, hospitals and HMO's.
The conventional wisdom here is that if there isn't an agreement before special session begins it won't be found, and with that in mind Gov. Jeb Bush is saying he will call lawmakers back again and again and again if need be."
Senate president, Jim King, says there are not enough votes in the senate to pass caps on damages.
"Things need to be done, it's what thing that still going to be debated, I would still project that this could be one of the most divisive special sessions we have ever had," says King.
Uncertain on day one is whether a new session will be called or this one extended. In addition to changing benefits for injured patients, lawmakers will make changes to the current law requiring insurance companies to make good faith settlement offers in a timely manner.
They are expected to crack down on bad doctors and try to limit frivolous lawsuits.