The Kentucky Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding the constitutionality of the Medical Review Panels law on Wednesday, August 8. The law, passed in 2017 by the Kentucky General Assembly and signed by Governor Bevin, is the first meaningful tort reform legislation enacted in a generation.
The law was challenged in Franklin Circuit Court, and in October 2017 Judge Phil Shepard found it to be unconstitutional. The Bevin administration appealed the ruling directly to the Kentucky Supreme Court, which accepted the case on a somewhat expedited basis. KMA has participated in this legal action from the start and filed a brief with the Kentucky Supreme Court, along with the American Medical Association (AMA), supporting the constitutionality of the medical review panel law. Other groups also filed briefs in support, including the Kentucky Hospital Association, the Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities, and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
KMA’s brief described the need for more physicians in Kentucky, as well as a better legal climate for physicians to practice. The legislature intended for the law to address that need. Kentucky currently ranks 43rd out of 50 states for its legal liability climate.
The Court is expected to hand down a ruling in the next few months.