Maine Medicine Political Pulse - 07/03/2003 (Plain Text Version)

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ALERT: U.S. Senate to Take Up Medical Liability Reform Next Week


Most of you probably have seen the TV ads against medical liability reform currently being run in Maine by representatives of the trial bar.  It is important that Senator Snowe and Senator Collins hear from you to counter these ads.


Contact Senator Snowe and Senator Collins by phone, e-mail, or fax urging them to vote for medical liability reform in the procedural votes next week.

Senator Snowe

Senator Collins


During the week of July 7, the U.S. Senate is expected to move the debate on Medical Liability Reform forward by voting on a Motion to Proceed. 

Passage of a Motion to Proceed would allow the Senate to continuously bring up MLR legislation for debate throughout the remainder of the 108th Congress.  This is a crucial step on the road to victory.

The Patients First Act of 2003, S. 11, sponsored by Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), imposes a cap of $250,000 on non-economic damages awarded in medical malpractice cases.  This cap would put an end to the multi-million dollar jury awards that are contributing to the skyrocketing cost of medical malpractice insurance, which in turn is causing doctors to close their doors.

The Patients First Act of 2003 safeguards patients’ access to care through the following common sense reforms:

  • Allowing patients to recover unlimited economic damages such as future medical expenses and loss of future earnings while establishing a cap on non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, of $250,000.
  • Allocating damages fairly, in proportion to a party's degree of fault.
  • Limiting the number of years a plaintiff has to file a healthcare liability action to ensure that claims are brought while evidence and witnesses are available.
  • Mandating that relevant medical experts testify in malpractice trials, as opposed to highly paid “expert witnesses” who are often used to influence juries and foster abuses in the legal system.

On Thursday, March 13, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the HEALTH Act, H.R. 5, by a vote of 229-196-1

It is also important to recognize that on March, 12, 2003, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 663, the "Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act," by a vote of 418-6. The AMA strongly supported this legislation, which is awaiting consideration in the U.S. Senate. The bill allows providers to report health care errors on a voluntary and confidential basis. Patient Safety Organizations (PSOs) would analyze the problems, identify solutions and provide feedback to avoid future errors. A database will be created in order to track national trends and reoccurring problems.

Click here for more liability reform background information

Click here for model letters to Congress

For more information, please contact Gordon Smith or Andrew MacLean at the MMA, 622-3374,, or


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