The National Conference of State Legislatures has decided to oppose federal legislation on medical malpractice issues, including a bill supported by President Bush that would set a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages.
The group approved the new policy at its meeting in San Francisco last week.
The policy reads that the NCSL "opposes federal efforts to preempt existing state laws or state constitutional provisions including laws that govern statute of limitations, awarding of damages, drafting of pleadings and introduction of evidence and the awarding of attorneys fees."
The House passed the federal bill earlier this year, but it effectively died on July 8, when the Senate voted not to take it up.
Another Senate malpractice bill, introduced that same day by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), is still active. It would provide tax relief to providers faced with above-average premium increases.
Meanwhile, the NCSL reports that the 34 state legislatures considering measures on medical malpractice this year were Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Among those bills is a Texas measure setting a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages. Gov. Rick Perry signed the bill into law in June, but Texas voters will have to vote Sept. 13 on changing the state constitution before it can take effect.
A proposed $250,000 cap has had less luck in Florida, where Gov. Jeb Bush postponed a third special session on the bill, scheduled for this week, after it became clear that the state Senate would not alter its opposition to the cap.