Yesterday Governor Doyle signed revised legislation putting caps back on medical malpractice awards. It should be noted that these caps are only applied to awards for non-economic damages, such as for pain and suffering. I'm sure that Governor Doyle signed this legislation because it did appear to be a compromise from the caps that Republicans initially sought to impose ($450,000-$550,000). With all of this in mind, I still disagree with signing this into law. Allow me to briefly state my case.
First, we have not seen the avalanche of malpractice lawsuits since the caps were removed. This was a scare tactic often used by the other side, but nothing resembling this ever happened.
Second, if supporters of caps really wanted to keep doctor's payments down for malpractice insurance, they should have offered a more balanced approach. I could have lived with legislation that imposed the $750,000 caps if they also imposed some regulations on the insurance company's price gouging of doctors. Their prices for malpractice have gone up even when malpractice payouts have gone down or stayed the same. Much of this is due to their loses in the stock market, not because of malpractice payouts. Why not address this if you really care about what doctors must pay?
Third, what lit a fire under the pro-cap legislators was a verdict that awarded a women $4.25 million for pain and suffering in February. This case, in my opinion, was an exception and should have not been used as the standard of awards to come. It is my understanding that the victim in this case must be tube fed for the rest of her life because of the malpractice that she suffered. Think of yourself having to go through that for the rest of your life. Does that award sound that unreasonable to you? Not to me. Even this new increased cap does not really keep extreme injuries like this in mind.
Although the following point does not really fit here, it cannot be made enough while discussing this issue. Most caps supporters start talking about frivolous lawsuits when spinning on the issue. This is a good way to push buttons but it is not founded in the truth. When someone wins a verdict, they have WON THEIR CASE! How could it be a frivolous lawsuit if they have already had their day in court and WON?
When all is said and done, I do understand the compromise the Governor has made here. I simply feel that he could have done more for those who have suffered from malpractice. In the end it will be the state Supreme Court that will decide if this compromise does justice to those who have been severely harmed. A resounding "no" would be the decision from Justice Cory.