Medical groups working on Arkansas tort reform amendment

by Steve Brawner (BRAWNERSTEVE@MAC.COM) 100 views 

Arkansas’ attorney general has certified the ballot title for a proposed constitutional amendment that would require the General Assembly to limit damages in medical lawsuits, but its health provider backers are pulling that amendment in favor of another they say will be more comprehensive.

Chase Dugger of JCD Consulting Services said the particulars of the new proposed amendment were still being considered Monday, but the bill will be submitted to the attorney general’s office soon.

“Basically at the end of the day, we talked to a lot of health care providers last week and realized that a more comprehensive bill was needed to help lower health care costs and improve access to health services in Arkansas, so we’re going to file a more comprehensive bill hopefully today that will cover all those things,” he said.

Once the proposed amendment is approved by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, the coalition led by health care providers will begin gathering signatures. Backers must collect 84,859 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. Dugger expressed confidence that his group will be able to collect those signatures.

Dugger said his backers are not ready to identify themselves publicly. The ballot committee includes him and attorney Dan Greenberg, a former Arkansas House member. He said the idea came from a “wide range of people.”

On Friday, Rutledge approved the ballot title for the group’s first effort. It says the Legislature “shall enact laws which specify a maximum dollar amount award of non-economic damages in a civil action for medical injury brought against a health-care provider, as well as laws which specify a maximum ratio of punitive damages to compensatory damages in a civil action for medical injury brought against a health-care provider.”

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