State Senator Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, wants medical negligence victims to bring their claims before an industry-dominated review board before they can bring them to court.
His Senate Bill 4 is very much like previous measures which have enjoyed broad support in the GOP-controlled Senate but failed to win over House Democrats. Now, with Republican majorities in both houses, the medical negligence lawsuit limits may become a reality, especially since a Senate panel quickly and overwhelmingly approved Senate Bill 4. Sen. Alvarado, who is also a doctor, spoke up for the proposal during committee hearings, claiming that the number of lawsuits is driving up medical care costs. Doctors “order tests they never would have before just to cover themselves, and the cost of medical care is going up as a result,” he added. If the bill passes, a panel of three medical providers and one non-voting medical negligence lawyer must determine that a claim is meritorious before the victim can obtain damages in court.
A number of Democrats, including Lexington Sen. Reginald Thomas, vehemently oppose Senate Bill 4. “[E]very citizen in this commonwealth should have access to the courthouse door,” he insisted.