$28.5 million and counting anted up for malpractice ballot fight

10:24 AM, Aug 22, 2013   |    comments
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Pick your analogy: the all-in bet during a heated poker game, the Cold War arms race posturing.  Whatever you call it, the money move made by doctors and insurance companies in their brewing political war with trial lawyers and consumer groups is impressive.

$28.5 million already in the bank to fight a potential 2014 initiative removing the long-standing cap on pain and suffering awards in medical malpractice lawsuits.

The latest seven figure donations to the political action committee known as 'Patients and Providers to Protect Access and Contain Health Costs' were reported on Wednesday, according to state campaign finance documents.

The contributions are in expectation of a ballot fight next year over changes to the state's 1975 Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), most notably a lifting of the law's $250,000 cap on awards for 'non-economic' losses like pain and suffering.

News10 Video: Medical Malpractice Cap Fight

A consumer group and the state's association of trial lawyers have pushed for the change at the Capitol, but there's a growing sense that a legislative compromise is not in the cards.

The $28.5 million in campaign cash comes from a coalition of physicians, hospitals, dentists, and malpractice insurance companies.  The donations were reported as loans to the political action committee, which likely signals that the effort could simply shut down if backers of the proposed ballot initiative don't actually launch a major campaign of their own.

The political money is notable not just for its total size, but for the early date on which it's being stockpiled.  Even if the backers of the malpractice cap initiative launch a formal campaign, the measure wouldn't appear on the ballot until next November.

John Myers | News10 Political Editor



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