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Patients’ Compensation System Introduced in Florida Legislature

"Florida has the opportunity to take the lead on fixing a national problem - replacing our broken medical liability system with one that works for patients, physicians and our economy."

Sen. Alan Hays (R-Umatilla)

New Medical Malpractice System Would Reduce Healthcare Costs

In an effort to reduce skyrocketing healthcare costs and increase access to justice for medically injured patients, Sen. Alan Hays (R-Umatilla) and Rep. Jason T. Brodeur (R-Sanford)  are introducing today bold new legislation which would replace the state's current medical malpractice system with a no-blame, administrative model.

Senate Bill 1134/House Bill 897, would address malpractice compensation claims through an administrative -  rather than litigious - process that would reduce healthcare costs; increase access to justice for injured patients; ensure the injured are fairly compensated; decrease medical errors; and protect caregivers from unfair litigation.

Under a Patients' Compensation System, a patient who was medically injured could file a claim for review by a panel of expert practitioners. If that panel deemed the injury was "avoidable," the claim would be forwarded to a Compensation Department to award compensation.

"Florida has the opportunity to take the lead on fixing a national problem - replacing our broken medical liability system with one that works for patients, physicians and our economy," said Sen. Hays.

The legislation would drastically reduce Florida's healthcare costs by eliminating the practice of "defensive medicine" or when physicians order more tests and procedures than are medically necessary to keep from being sued. An actuarial study, released by the international healthcare economics firm BioScience Valuation, found that Florida doctors would scale back the practice of defensive medicine if the medical tort system was replaced with a no-blame, administrative compensation system. In turn, the Patients' Compensation System could save $1.4 billion annually for Florida's state share of Medicaid.

"With Florida facing skyrocketing Medicaid bills and insurmountable deficits, it would be irresponsible not to thoroughly evaluate this system and its potential for incredible savings," said Rep. Brodeur.

While a survey by Oppenheim Research shows 93 percent of Florida physicians support the proposed system, opposition includes those who see the system as a potential threat to their bottom line - including trial attorneys and larger medical malpractice carriers.

The House has referred the legislation to the Civil Justice Subcommittee, as well as the Health & Human Services and Judiciary committees. The Senate has referred the legislation to Judiciary, Health Policy, Appropriations and Rules committees.