Monday, March 01, 2004

The bills that were passed out of the Judiciary Committee on Friday were:
HB 1399, HB 1396, and HB 1400. The Medical Association of Georgia had these comments:

On Friday, the House Judiciary passed three tort reform related bills out of committee. The following legislation was considered and passed:

HB 1399 is an inadequate attempt to deal with the expert witness issue. It contains numerous loopholes and does not apply to the pre-filing affidavit rule currently in effect in Georgia. As a result, this legislation will not have a meaningful impact on preventing frivolous lawsuits from entering the judicial system.

HB 1396, the Committee's so-called emergency room bill, deals solely with the issue of vicarious liability. That is, hospitals are insulated from liability for the acts of physicians who provide services as independent contractors. This bill does not do anything to address the crisis in providing coverage in the emergency department and our state's diminishing trauma care.

HB 1400 was an attempt to deal with frivolous lawsuits. The legislation passed out of committee provides some sanctions for lawyers who engage in frivolous activity after a case has been filed. However, the bill does not attempt to prevent frivolous lawsuits from entering the judicial system.

None of these bills will provide relief for the rapidly growing crisis in Georgia.

This legislation is expected to come back to the House combined as a single bill. When re-introduced, a vote will be taken to engross this bill. Engrossment means that the bill cannot be amended in any way. If these bills are re-introduced in their current form, the Medical Association will oppose engrossment.

So maybe it's less than half a loaf.

I've been busy on call today, more posting tomorrow.
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