HB 1038 providing tort reform passed both the House and Senate and was signed into law by Governor Mike Huckabee. The bill caps punitive damages and eliminates joint and several liability. For more information, visit Web site: www.arkansas.gov.
AB 932 was introduced in February to repeal the prohibition on podiatrists performing amputations. The bill would also allow podiatrists to "treat ulcers or wounds of the lower leg that are related to a condition on the foot or ankle," and allow a podiatrist to be an assistant surgeon for MDs or DOs for procedures beyond the scope of practice of podiatry. For more information, visit Web site: http://www.ca.gov/state/portal/myca_homepage.jsp.
A special task force set up by Gov. Jeb Bush came out with 60 proposals for dealing with the professional medical liability premium crisis. The task force agreed that the one key change needed is the creation of a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages. The House of Representatives passed HB 1713 that includes a $250,000 cap. The outlook in the Senate is unclear. For more information, visit Web site: www.myflorida.com.
House Bill 92 passed and lowers the cap on non-economic damages from $400,000 to $250,000. The cap will be adjusted for inflation. A cap on punitive damages will be created of $250,000 or three times the compensatory damageswhichever is greater.
A bill, SB 1, that would amend the constitution to allow the General Assembly to cap non-economic damages failed in a floor vote in the Senate because of lack of Democratic support. The bill received only 21 of 23 votes needed. For more information, visit Web site: www.kentucky.gov.
Direct access legislation, HB 4176, to physical therapists has been introduced. For more information, visit Web site: www.michigan.gov.
A bill, SB 2778, to overturn the $500,000 cap enacted last year and replace it with a $250,000 cap passed the Senatebut died in the House.
A bill to expand the scope of practice of podiatry to include the ankle failed. For more information, visit Web site: www.mississippi.gov/index.jsp.
A bill, HB 273, passed the House that would lower the cap on non-economic damages to $350,000 and limit attorneys fees. For more information, visit Web site: www.missouri.gov.
In March, the House passed a bill that would eliminate the Health Services Planning and Review Board, commonly referred to as the certificate of need (CON) board, and transfer its regulatory duties to the state Department of Health and Human Services. The bill has the strong support of the governor and must now be examined by the House Finance Committee. CON boards currently exist in 36 states; 14 other have repealed the boards. For more information visit Web site: http://premium1.fosters.com/2003/news/mar%5F03/mar%5F14/news/reg%5Fnh%5F0314a.asp.
Direct access legislation to physical therapists, AB 4582 and SB 2073, has been introduced. For more information, visit Web site: www.state.ny.us.
A bill, HB 1458, limiting attorney fees, and allowing collateral source evidence and periodic payments, failed in the House by a vote of 14-73. For more information, visit Web site: http://www.discovernd.com.
Direct access legislation to physical therapists, SB 35, has been introduced. For more information, visit Web site: www.ohio.gov.
A bill, SB 497, was introduced to allow physicians to refuse treatment to a patient if the patient does not sign a contract voluntarily capping non-economic damages at $300,000. For more information, visit Web site: www.oregon.gov.
A bill, HB 1850, to provide immunity for actions of on-call doctors failed. For more information, visit Web site: www.vipnet.org.
SB 5728 passed the Senate on March 14. The bill states, "Except in cases of fraud and minority, no medical liability action can commence more than three years after the alleged negligent act occurred." It would also cap non-economic damages at $350,000. Periodic payments of future damages would be allowed if the damagesincluding non-economic damagesexceed $50,000.
The direct access to physical therapist (PT) legislation, HB 155, was signed into law. The bill allows PTs with a Masters Degree or a Bachelors Degree and five years clinical experience to treat without a referral from a physician. The patient must be referred to a physician after 30 days or 12 visitswhichever is earlier. Prior to treatment, the patient must be presented with information on the PTs education and a statement that insurance may not pay for these services without a physicians referral. For more information, visit Web site: www.state.wy.us.