Family members unable to sue doctors for the death of their loved ones, physicians who are forced to close up shop because of the high cost of malpractice litigation.


Those are scenarios painted by opposing sides in the debate over malpractice law reform. Now Speaker Tina Barnes is tackling the issue with a new bill that would create a medical arbitration fund. Initial seed money of $100,000 would be available for qualified claimants. Going forward it will be paid through an increase in the professional licensing fees for doctors and nurses.


"But this is looking for that funding source, and giving that funding source to those constituents who really wanna go through the process but can't access that because it's just way out of their reach," Barnes said. "Just to try and go through that process right now is, we're looking anywhere based on what the attorneys have said in the public hearings, anywhere between 40 and $60,000."

Barnes said medical malpractice laws have not changed in 40 years. She said both sides, doctors and patients, have valid arguments but she wants her bill to be the starting point for further dialogue.

"I think it's important that we at least bring this discussion up to the forefront so that some kind accessibility for those who really want to follow that process, there could be an opportunity for them to have access to resources, and having the checks and balances in place," she said. "And as chair of human resources, this was at least one way of coming to a middle ground."

Barnes says part of her motivation for the bill was the advocacy of David Lubofsky, who has been advocating for reform of malpractice laws after the death last year of his son Asher.