John P. Bracken, former president of the New York State Bar Association, today told a joint legislative fiscal committee that proposed changes to medical malpractice laws are "a dream come true" for the health care industry.
"Proposals to diminish the rights of medical malpractice victims in New York should not be subject to a process dominated by hospitals and other segments of the health care industry, promoting their own agenda," Bracken said in prepared testimony about the Department of Health budget.
Proposal 131 of the Governor's Medicaid Redesign Team would curtail the ability of injured patients to sue medical providers. One measure would impose a $250,000 cap on awards for pain and suffering. Another would create a fund for neurologically impaired infants. "We urge opposition to this ill-conceived proposal," Bracken said.
"Proposals to radically re-shape our justice system should not be pushed through as part of the state budget process," Bracken of Islandia (Bracken Margolin Besunder LLP) said.
Under current law, victims of medical malpractice can sue for lost wages, future medical costs and pain and suffering. Capping pain and suffering awards at $250,000 would weaken the law's ability to deter future medical misconduct, he said.
Bracken said creating a fund for neurologically impaired infants "has not been sufficiently studied, nor has it had the benefit of a full and fair review by all interested parties". Since details are not available, "this prevents any meaningful input," he added.
Founded in 1876, the 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary bar association in the nation.
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