Tort reform supporters can’t give up on process

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 31, 2004

Oh, here we go again. Mississippi House and Senate members were pointing fingers Thursday evening after efforts on tort reform legislation stalled again.

By one vote, the House approved sending a tort reform bill into final negotiations &045;&045; and the Senate refused to enter talks, which was probably the smart thing to do since the bill had some technical problems.

Now lawmakers say they will resume debate on a new bill, but it’s uncertain whether the work will begin today or after the holiday weekend.

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Surely by now, as we inch toward negotiations, legislators realize how important this issue is for our state. The close votes so far tell us a compromise &045;&045; or even, heaven forbid, an actual law &045;&045; can be made. We know the votes are out there, and the support is certainly out there from Mississippians.

But we can’t give up.

Two years ago, when doctors in Natchez began pushing for some kind of medical malpractice relief, the momentum they created finally led to a special session on the issue and to medical malpractice reform legislation.

Now, those same doctors are continuing to push for more reform &045;&045; not only for their own sakes but for the business community as well. Their tenacity is admirable and should be an example to those lawmakers who do want to bring reform.

As frustrating as the process is, lawmakers and those on the side of tort reform can’t give up on passing legislation. Making some concessions that are fair &045;&045; unlike the ridiculous $4 million cap proposed by Rep. Ed Blackmon’s committee earlier this week &045;&045; may be inevitable, but we have to continue to make a stand for real reform.

It may take time. But it is worth the effort.