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Two medical malpractice bills pass Michigan Legislature, others fail to reach vote

LANSING, MI –(December 15, 2012) Two bills that reform Michigan’s medical malpractice laws passed the House on Thursday, but the most controversial proposals never made it to a vote.

Senate Bill 1115, which limits medical malpractice damage awards, passed 108-2, while SB 1118 passed 107-3. It limits the time period for suing on behalf of a deceased person and bans prejudgment interest on attorney fees and costs awarded in medical malpractice suits.

Two other bills that were part of “Patients First Reform Package” did not make it to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk.

One bill that expanded the kinds of health care professionals that can be sued for malpractice cleared the Senate but did not reach a vote in the House. Another bill never made it out of committee after several personal injury lawyers and their clients testified against it. That bill stated that a health care professional or facility would not be liable in a malpractice case if the doctor acted with reasonable and good-faith belief that the conduct was well-founded in medicine and in the patient’s best interests.

Supporters, which include doctors and insurers, have said the package would address inequities in liability statutes and improve access to care. They explained that creating a more welcoming environment would help address a looming physician shortage as many doctors reach retirement age.

Southfield attorney Marc Lipton thanked Senate Insurance Committee Chair Joe Hune, R-Hamburg Township, and other lawmakers for listening to concerns about the legislation.

But he still isn’t supportive of the bills that passed.

“I’m disappointed that the legislature spent all this time on bills that were designed to protect insurance companies and ultimately would endanger patients,” said Lipton, president of trial lawyer group Michigan Association for Justice.

SB 1115 makes several changes, including reducing the total amount of future damages to present values at a rate of 5 percent per year, compounded annually, for each year in which those damages accrue, according to a House Fiscal Agency analysis.

Source: Melissa Anders at http://www.mlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/12/two_medical_malpractice_bills.html

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