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KMA Update on Medical Review Panels Case

Published: March 7, 2018

In 2017, the Kentucky General Assembly passed legislation that was signed by Governor Bevin establishing “medical review panels” in Kentucky. This legislation represents the first meaningful tort reform passed by the General Assembly in a generation.

Unfortunately, the law was challenged in Franklin Circuit Court, where Judge Phil Shepard found the law 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 recently 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.

Many arguments were made in the briefs supporting the law. KMA’s brief focused on specific findings by Judge Shepard, who ruled that there was no “rational basis” for the legislature to pass the law. Judge Shepard cited evidence that contradicted evidence used by the legislature illustrating the need for the law, especially around the lack of physicians in Kentucky. KMA’s brief describes 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. Evidence clearly shows both from a legal and practical perspective a “rational basis” for the law.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments from counsel later this year, perhaps in the spring or summer. It is anticipated that a decision will be issued sometime shortly after the arguments are heard.

KMA and its members spent a great deal of time and resources advocating for passage of the medical review panel legislation last year. KMA continues to expend resources defending the law’s constitutionality in court. And in 2018, KMA is using resources to pass additional tort reform legislation, including House Bill 4, which provides protections from legal discovery for medical peer review.

Please follow KMA’s communications on these issues and continue advocating for meaningful tort reform in Kentucky.

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