FRANKFORT, KY. — A bill to set up review panels in medical malpractice cases passed the Senate on Wednesday after more than an hour of debate on a 23-13 party-line vote.
That vote came hours after sponsor Chairwoman Julie Denton’s Health and Welfare Committee voted 7-4 to re-approve the Louisville Republican’s Senate Bill 119.
The bill would require that medical malpractice complaints be taken to a panel of three experts — which would say whether proper standards for care were met — before someone could take a claim to court. A change to the bill approved in committee would make the review panel’s finding inadmissible in court if new substantial evidence were discovered after that report.
Democrats said the panels unduly restrict access to the courts for victims of medical malpractice. Sen. Ray Jones, D-Pikeville who led the opposition, said the bill is “pandering” to businesses.
Denton and Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said the panels are not an impediment to legitimate cases of malpractice.
The bill had passed Denton’s committee once before, but was sent back by Senate leadership after Jones, an attorney, filed a host of amendments to change the bill.
The amendments were all ruled out of order on Wednesday in a contentious debate over parliamentary procedure.
The bill has died previously in the Democratic-majority House.