Steele: Deal close on medical malpractice reform bill

October 21, 2015

Plaintiff and defense lawyers and state officials are close to an agreement on legislation to reform Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Act, a key state senator said Tuesday.

Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, cited ongoing discussions among stakeholders in pulling proposed draft legislation from consideration Tuesday by the Interim Study Committee on Courts and the Judiciary. He read a letter from the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association requesting a delay as talks with representatives of the governor’s office and other officials proceed.

The committee previously took testimony on proposals to increase the current statutory $1.25 million cap on malpractice damages and revise the medical review panel procedure required before any medical malpractice claim greater than $15,000 may be heard in court.

The ITLA letter indicated parties involved in the discussion were close to an agreement on key issues to be included in legislation when the General Assembly convenes in January.

“I expect everybody to come to the table with an agreed bill,” Steele told the committee.

Steele, who chairs the study committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee, outlined his expectations for legislation. He said a bill should include an increase in the cap, a mechanism to adjust the cap for inflation, and an increase of the $15,000 review panel threshold to $75,000. He said legislation also should cap attorney fees, and vowed to introduce measures with these provisions if an agreed bill doesn’t include them.

Negotiators working on compromises are motivated by recent court rulings in other states that have struck down caps on medical malpractice as unconstitutional and the possibility of a case arising here with a similar outcome. Steele said those involved in the talks believe, “if we don’t do something, we’re going to mess up the entire (malpractice) act.”



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