Four physician-related petition drives are vying to make it to the November ballot in Florida.
One, supported by the Florida Medical Association and Citizens for a Fair Share, a not-for-profit organization formed by the association, would require anyone who enters into a contingency-fee agreement with an attorney in a claim for medical liability receive no less than 70% of the first $250,000 of a settlement for damages and 90% of the settlement for damages in excess of that amount, exclusive of reasonable and customary costs and regardless of the number of defendants.
The proposed amendment to the state constitution needs about 488,000 signatures to make the ballot.
The contingency-fee initiative has received the 48,800 signatures needed to qualify for a review of its language by the Florida Supreme Court, according to Emily Turner, a spokeswoman for CoreMessage, the public relations firm handling the campaign. The court also will look at whether the petition statement addresses a single subject, as required by law.
Oral arguments are scheduled for June 8, Turner said.
The group is confident it will gain enough signatures to place the measure on the ballot by the end of June, she said. The deadline for meeting that threshold, which represents 8% of the votes cast in the 2000 presidential election, is Aug. 3.
Three other initiatives, backed by the Florida trial bar and filed by Floridians for Patient Protection, also have met the first signature threshold. Floridians for Patient Protection and Citizens for a Fair Share have filed motions before the court to challenge the validity of each other's petitions.
One of the lawyer-supported initiatives would require a physician to charge the same fee for the same healthcare service, procedure or treatment for all patients and would require charging the lowest fee a physician has agreed to accept. It would not limit a physician's ability to provide free services, however. Also, patients may review the physician's fee and similar information before, during or after the care is provided.
Another proposed amendment would give patients the right to review, upon request, records of healthcare facilities' or providers' adverse medical incidents, including those that could cause injury or death, and provides that the patients' identities should not be disclosed.
The third, a "three strikes" amendment, would prohibit physicians from obtaining or renewing a Florida medical license if they have been found to have committed three or more incidents of medical malpractice.
Floridians for Patient Protection could not be reached for comment by deadline.
"The only reason for those three to have been brought forth is to get us to drop ours," Turner said. "We stand by our amendment."