Senate Says Tough Luck, Rural Ob-Gyns

By December 13, 2007Briefly Legal, Health Care

The Senate on Wednesday voted 41 yeas to 53 nays to reject an amendment to the Farm Bill that would have capped pain and suffering awards in medical malpractice suits against rural ob-gyns at $750,000. Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH):

We are going to follow what has happened in the law that has been set up in Texas and California, two States which have confronted this issue of liability insurance for doctors and have come up with a plan that has alleviated the cost of the insurance so doctors are able to practice in those States. It essentially says that in the area of economic recovery, you can recover every expenditure, every loss you had, if you were injured as a result of malpractice on the part of a doctor delivering a baby in a rural area.

But in the area of pain and suffering, where so much of the huge awards occur, and where you have had these real decisions that have been in the numbers that are multiple millions, that won’t happen any longer. We are going to limit recovery in the pain and suffering area to what has been the standard in Texas and California, which is $750,000 per incident.

The practical effect of this is very simple. It will mean doctors who wish to practice in rural America, who wish to deliver babies for farm families and for other families who live in rural America will be able to pursue those practices and still make a living, something they cannot do in many parts of this country today, so women in these communities will not have to drive for miles and miles to get adequate health care, especially when they are having children.

We won’t pretend that this debate was much more than about making a point, but it was informative. You can read excerpts here.

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