LAWYERS DROP DOCTOR FEE BALLOT ITEM - Mitch Perry

07/22/04

Florida trial lawyers have decided to scrap a proposal to require doctors to charge all patients alike, one of their three proposed constitutional amendments on the November ballot aimed at doctors.

The executive committee of the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers decided over the weekend to drop the proposed amendment, after gathering more than 700,000 voter signatures and winning approval for the ballot language from the Florida Supreme Court.

The lawyers say instead they'll focus their attention on defeating an amendment being pushed by the Florida Medical Association that would severely limit lawyer fees in medical malpractice cases.

Dr. Carl Flatley is on the Board of Governors for the Group, Floridians for Patient Protection. He explains why there will now be 2 - and not 3 proposed Constitutional Amendments this November that target doctors (roll tape#1 o.q."than the other one")

According to the Academy's internal polls, the doctor-fees amendment was the least popular of the three. It was also widely viewed to have the potential to do the most damage to the healthcare system in Florida by forcing doctors and hospitals to end the cost-shifting that now allows them to accept lower fees for Medicaid patients while charging higher fees to those with private insurance or to the uninsured.

Emily Turner is a spokesperson for Citizens for a Fair Share, the advocacy group representing Doctors in the latest Medical Malpractice battles here in Florida ( roll tape#2 o.q."trial lawyers are").

Dr. Carl Flatley brings personal experience to his advocacy. His daughter passed away due to Medical Malpractice (roll tape#2 o.q."days later")

As it stands now, Floridians will vote on 3 issues regarding Medical Malpractice, 2 sponsored by the Trial Attorneys, and one backed by Florida Doctors.

Emily Turner from Citizens for a Fair Share said their Amendment - Amendment 3 on this November's Ballot will do this Floridians (roll tape#4 o.q. "settlement")

The Trial Lawyers say their proposal to require doctors to charge all patients alike could come back on the ballot in 2006.

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