The Senate plans to vote this week on a bill limiting noneconomic damages to $250,000 in malpractice lawsuits against obstetricians, gynecologists and trauma doctors, Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) told an audience at an American Medical Association meeting in Washington last week.
The bill was introduced last month by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.). Earlier this year, a similar bill sponsored by Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) didn't get enough votes to beat a Democratic filibuster, and a more comprehensive malpractice reform measure failed in the Senate last year. Frist also defended the new Medicare reform law, imploring doctors to talk to their patients about its benefits. "We need you to help us fight what some of the Democrats are doing to tear down the Medicare legislation," he said. Since being signed in December 2003, the law has been embroiled in controversy, most recently because of an allegation by CMS Chief Actuary Richard Foster that he was threatened with the loss of his job if he disclosed estimates raising the cost of the legislation by $155 billion.