The Virginia General Assembly overrode Gov. Bob McDonnell’s veto of a bill that would raise awards in medical malpractice lawsuits $50,000 a year starting in 2012.
The Republican-led House of Delegates voted 93-7. The Democratic-controlled Senate voted 29-11.
Lawmakers have debated for years whether to increase the awards in medical malpractice lawsuits. Some Democrats have favored an increase, but Republicans have rejected the proposals in the name of tort reform.
McDonnell vetoed the bill last week, saying it “will not meaningfully protect against health care cost increases.” But he told legislators that he vetoed the bill because it violated a campaign promise.
McDonnell, a lawyer and former state attorney general, favored some increases when he was a legislator, but criticized his Democratic gubernatorial opponent, Sen. Creigh Deeds, for supporting a 1999 bill that would have raised Virginia’s cap on medical malpractice settlements from $1 million to $3 million.
A trio of organizations had negotiated a compromise — the Medical Society of Virginia, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association and the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association — and had been lobbying lawmakers to override the veto.
In the 1970s, the General Assembly capped awards in medical malpractice lawsuits at $750,000. The cap was gradually increased and capped at $2 million in 2008. The bill calls for an increase from $2 million starting in 2012, and then $50,000 each year until 2031.