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Med mal cap decision is down to the wire

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is keeping lobbyists and lawmakers waiting to see if he will sign or veto legislation to increase the cap on medical malpractice recoveries.

The deadline for gubernatorial action on bills from the 2011 General Assembly is tonight at midnight. McDonnell’s apparent reluctance to sign the compromise malpractice cap legislation led interested groups to mount a campaign to push for McDonnell’s approval.

Del. David Albo, R-Fairfax, said he participated in a conference call with the governor on Friday, and was told McDonnell had not made up his mind. A scheduled meeting today with proponents of the cap increase was canceled by Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel with the comment that a meeting would not be the best use of time at this late stage.

The proposal for a series of increases in the malpractice cap sailed through the General Assembly with little opposition, so a veto would likely be overridden by the legislature.

The cap measure was the result of negotiations among doctors, plaintiffs’ lawyers and hospitals. Representatives of each of those interest groups signed a Feb. 24 letter urging McDonnell to sign the legislation.

By Peter Vieth and Alan Cooper

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