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Virginia Politics
Posted at 12:06 PM ET, 03/31/2011

Groups lobby legislators to override McDonnell’s veto on medical malpractice awards

The trio of organizations that had spent two years on a compromise to raise awards in medical malpractice lawsuits — the Medical Society of Virginia, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association and the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association — immediately began lobbying legislators to override Gov. Bob McDonnell’s veto.

The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association sent a letter to all 140 legislators. The Medical Society sent an alert to all its members, asking them to contact their legislators.

The Medical Society and the trial lawyers are also preparing a handout for legislators for when they return to the state Capitol on Wednesday to consider McDonnell’s amendments and vetoes.

Scott Johnson, the Medical Society’s general counsel, said the organization is disappointed by the veto, but pleased thus far by the legislative response. “We’re very humbled by the support,’’ he said. “We’re not going to let up.”

The bill calls for an increase from $2 million starting in 2012, and then $50,000 each year until 2031.

Read the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association below:

Dear Delegate:

We write respectfully urging you to vote to override the Governor’s veto of HB 1459 and SB 771, which the General Assembly passed during the 2011 session – with overwhelming support – to increase Virginia’s cap on medical malpractice awards by $50,000 annually for 20 years, beginning on July 1, 2012.

Since 2008, the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA), the Medical Society of Virginia and the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association have worked together to reach agreement on management of two important malpractice liability issues: the cap on awards and the scope of protection in lawsuits for providers’ quality and safety information. Throughout these discussions, VHHA has maintained its commitment to comprehensive tort liability reform that addresses both issues because only in this way will we eliminate future errors and harm to patients but also fairly compensate those patients harmed by malpractice.

One element of proposed comprehensive liability reform is now law with the Governor’s signature of HB 2373 and SB 1469, which will facilitate the important work necessary to improve quality and safety in patient care by clarifying the scope of the privilege afforded this information in lawsuits.

A second important element of such liability reform is the increase in Virginia’s cap on medical malpractice awards implemented by HB 1459 and SB 771. This increase provides fair compensation to patients who are injured by medical malpractice, but the increase also is incremental, allowing for stability and predictability for providers who must ensure that they have covered these liability risks.

These two elements of comprehensive liability reform – a fair malpractice cap and clarity with respect to the scope of the legal privilege for quality and safety information – are consistent with our association’s long-standing principles governing effective management of liability issues:

· Accountability when mistakes occur;

· Fair, reasonable compensation for those injured by mistakes; and

· Protection of access to health care services by maintenance of a stable statewide health care liability environment that provides opportunities for improved care and quality and reasonable risk management for providers.

On behalf of our member hospitals and health systems and the communities they serve, we respectfully urge you to vote to override the Governor’s veto of HB 1459 and SB 771.

Sincerely,

Katharine M. Webb

Senior Vice President

By  |  12:06 PM ET, 03/31/2011

 
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