For the first time, a committee of the Florida Senate has embraced a cap on noneconomic damages for malpractice lawsuits, opening the way for passage of caps in a special session called by Gov. Jeb Bush.
In a state that is a key battleground for malpractice reforms, the cap of $500,000, approved by the Senate's committee on health, aging and long-term care, is twice the amount that the Florida House passed.
Malpractice insurance experts say the $500,000 level is too high to be effective in checking burgeoning malpractice premiums, and the Florida Medical Association and Bush are insisting on a $250,000 cap.
The Senate is expected to vote on the measure before the end of Thursday, when the special session is due to end, a spokesperson for the medical association says.
If nothing is passed before the session ends, Bush could extend the special session, she says.