State medical societies have expressed considerable ambivalence about proposals to proceed specialty by specialty on malpractice reform, starting with the hardest-hit areas such as obstetrics and emergency medicine, fearing that such measures might serve to divide the profession and allow politicians to say that they had "done something" after addressing only the most obvious crisis areas ("AMA vows united voice in battle for tort reform", American Medical News, Jan. 5). At any rate, it seems the choice of such a compromise won't be available at the federal level, since opponents have no seeming interest in it. This week the Senate's Republican leadership brought back malpractice reform in a pared-down version intended just to address obstetric litigation, but no go: the 48-45 vote was pretty much the same as that by which omnibus reform had failed, falling far short of the 60 needed to overcome an expected filibuster by Democrats.
The Associated Press report on the vote (Jesse Holland, AP/DailyNews.com, Feb. 25) reported that "some conservatives" opposed the bill, but the conservative it quoted turned out to be Ken Connor, former head of the religious-right Family Research Council. What AP didn't add is that Connor is not exactly your typical conservative, having made his fortune in Florida as a plaintiff's lawyer suing nursing homes and having served as a tenacious legislative advocate for the interests of the trial bar before his stint at FRC (see Mar. 2-4, 2001).
[cross-posted from Overlawyered, where it ran Feb. 26, 2004]