2008 Regular Session . April 23, 2008
LAJ Lobby Day 2008
Lobby Day was a roaring success. If you missed the chance to be in Baton Rouge yesterday to meet with colleagues from around the state, sit in on committee meetings at the Capitol, enjoy lunch at the LAJ offices with legislators and witness floor debates in the House and Senate, we have great news for you. You'll have another opportunity on Tuesday, May 13, when LAJ conducts a second Lobby Day for the 2008 Regular Session. This is the halfway point in the session and there will still be plenty of legislative action in Baton Rouge.
Bills to Watch
HB 70, originally by Rep. Nick Lorusso, who was replaced as author by Rep. Greg Cromer, brings negligent credentialing, transporting and monitoring of patients under the private Med Mal act. It also defines health care to include acts or omissions relating to supervision, assistance with activities of daily living, personal hygiene or risk of falling. An amendment was added in committee to provide that these acts or omissions are only treated as patient-related services under the Med Mal Act where coverage under commercial general liability insurance is not available.
The proponents, nursing homes and the La. Hospital and La. Nursing Home insurance trust funds, argued to the committee that this legislation was necessary because nursing homes and hospitals could not buy coverage for these risks. The courts had held they were not medical malpractice and commercial general liability carriers excluded the acts on the grounds that anything that happened to a patient in a facility was a part of medical treatment and should come under the malpractice act.
Medical Malpractice Section Chair David Abramson, LAJ Legislative Committee Chair Donald Price and LAJ member Scott Iles testified in committee against the bill.
The Civil Law committee passed the bill out by a vote of 9-3. Voting against the bill were Reps. John Bel Edwards, Robert Johnson and Rosalind Jones.
HB 215 by Rep. Franklin Foil, brought on behalf of the La. State Medical Society, amends the provision in R.S. 9:2794(D) on qualification of medical expert witnesses testifying in a medical malpractice action. The original bill required physicians to have a current and "unrestricted" license in order to testify. Following discussion of what was meant by an "unrestricted" license, the committee amended the bill to require that a testifying physician must hold a current license or have held a license to practice in Louisiana or any other jurisdiction in the U.S. The language in current law that allows testimony by a graduate of any medical school accredited by the AMA's Liaison Committee is deleted by the bill.
David Abramson and Donald Price testified against the bill in its original form. The bill was reported without objection after the amendment was adopted.
HB 887 by Rep. John LaBruzzo eliminates all recovery for medical malpractice claims, except for the cost of medical treatment, for anyone over the age of 18 who is in the country illegally. Rep. LaBruzzo's original bill reduced the cap on medical malpractice recovery to $250,000 for any patient who did not provide for payment of his health care treatment through private insurance, Medicaid, Medicare or other means. LaBruzzo appeared in committee with amendments to change the focus of the bill from the uninsured working poor to illegal immigrants. An amendment by Rep. Walker Hines softened the bill a bit by excluding anyone under the age of 18.
Late on April 22, the final day for filing additional bills for the session, Rep. LaBruzzo filed HB 1186, to reduce the amount of medical malpractice recovery for patients who are uninsured at the time of their injury or death. Their med mal recovery would be reduced by an amount "equal to the estimated amount that the patient would have paid in health insurance premiums over the period of time during which the patient was uninsured, based on the average premiums of an individual the same age of the patient at the time of the injury or death." The bill has been assigned to House Civil Law and Procedure.
Several bills of interest to LAJ members were on the agenda of Senate Judiciary A Committee when it met on Tuesday. Most were voluntarily deferred by the author, including Senate Bills 186, 211 and 213 by Sen. Rob Marionneaux and Senate Bill 330 by Sen. Joel Chaisson.
SB 186 extends prescription to two years. SB 211 increases jury threshold from $50,000 to $100,000. SB 213 is a constitutional amendment to repeal appellate review of fact.
SB 330 is a medical emergency immunity bill proposed specifically to address medical personnel trying to care for patients in disaster situations without access to proper equipment and resources.
To contact your legislators, access information about bills, check committee schedules and more, go to the Web portal of the Louisiana State Legislature.