Gov. Bush Reconvening Legislature on Med-Mal Aug. 5

July 23, 2003

Special Session C ended Monday with no solution to Florida’s health care/medical malpractice insurance crisis and Gov. Jeb Bush planning to convene legislators for Special Session D August 5.

House Speaker Johnnie Byrd released a statement declaring: “Even though some critical issues remain undecided, I believe we are very close to reaching a final agreement with the Senate.”

Bush, in an interview with the Associated Press, said he was hopeful of the Legislature finally reaching agreement and that the next special session would begin August 5.

Senate President Jim King, in a Florida Public Radio interview broadcast this morning, said the Senate is waiting on a response from the House and Bush to the new proposal it released late last week. He insisted that the package is sound and is as far as the Senate is willing to go on caps for non-economic damages and other issues.

In other developments, the Senate posted the transcripts of last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings which Senate leaders claim demonstrated doctors are not actually leaving the state, hospitals are not closing emergency rooms and trauma centers, the Office of Insurance Regulation rubber stamps insurance rate increases and carriers are earning excess profits.

Associated Industries of Florida reported that Judiciary Chairman Alex Villalobos (R-Miami) has decided against releasing a summary of what he believes were the key findings, choosing to let the testimony speak for itself. Testimony during the second day of hearings was more balanced—from the viewpoint of FIC and other proponents of significant med mal reform—than the first day’s hearings.

The Coalition to Heal Florida Health Care, including doctors, hospitals and insurers, released a statement on an unproductive Special Session C, commending Bush and the House and criticizing the Senate.

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