House committee takes up medical malpractice reform once again

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A House committee has resumed the task of finding new solutions to medical malpractice reform. But this time it is considering alternatives to caps on noneconomic damages.

The Senate earlier this year voted against legislation to limit noneconomic damage awards in medical malpractice suits to $250,000. It is the eighth time the Senate has blocked the House's attempt to cap damages since 1995.

Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health heard from experts on various reform ideas. Paul Barringer, general counsel for Common Good, advocated for the use of health courts to solve malpractice disputes. Jeffrey O'Connell, a law professor, suggested "early offer," a reform that would give medical liability insurers an option to make a settlement offer within 180 days after a claim is filed. The offer would be equal to a patient's net economic loss and "reasonable" legal fees.