Indiana General Assembly Underway

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The Indiana General Assembly began their short session earlier this month.  This is a non-budget year.  The session is likely to be dominated by road funding, ISTEP testing, RFRA, and other issues unrelated to our members’ concerns.  There are two bills that we will be actively working – medical malpractice reform and property tax exemptions for affordable housing.  We will be following other bills and will be active as issues arise.  
SB 225 would clarify an issue our HUD 202 members have been having regarding property tax exemptions.  Some counties have been billing members for taxes based on recent tax case law which raised issues related to these exemptions.  This has been inconsistent from county to county and a few members have had to settle with the county due to the expense of a legal appeal.  This bill would clearly exempt these nonprofit affordable housing facilities and make this uniform across the state.  Jim Leich testified at Senate Appropriations on Jan. 21 in support of the bill which passed out of the committee on a 9-0 vote.
SB 152 addresses caps on damages that can be obtained in medical malpractice cases.  This limit has not been increased for over 17 years and there is a fear that it may be vulnerable to a constitutional challenge.  The bill addresses how this limit might increase in the future.  Importantly for our members, the bill addresses the level of a suit when it must go before a medical review panel before going to trial under Indiana’s patient compensation fund program.  The bill proposes raising this from its current level of $15,000 to $75,000.  This is a concern since the medical review panel provides an independent medical review of the case.  Without this, it would be each sides’ medical experts battling it out in front of a jury not knowledgeable of medical issues.
Various health provider groups, including long term care, and the trial bar have been negotiating these parameters and, as expected, the two sides have been relatively far apart.  The bill’s author, Sen. Brent Steele (R-Bedford) is proposing a solution which would be very advantageous to health care providers.  This would include:
  • Eliminate direct access entirely. All cases have to go to a medical review panel. 
  • Increase caps from $1.25 million to $1.675 million, $225k on underlying risk and $225k on the Patient Compensation Fund (PCF).
  • 2.25% increase of the $1.675 million cap each year, with that 2.25% split between the underlying risk and PCF (1.125% each side)
  • Panels involving nursing homes would be required to have two physicians and if any nurses are included, that nurse must have NF experience in three of the last five years.

It remains to be seen if this approach will be able to pass out of committee and move to the Senate floor.  

2016 General Assembly Bills of Interest.pdf123.03 KB


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