Rep. Chad McCoy
By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News
A bill to require anyone filing a lawsuit against health-care providers to get a qualified expert to declare that the case has merit has passed the General Assembly and awaits the signature of Gov. Matt Bevin.
The bill passed the House 69-24 on March 1 and the Senate 37-0 on the consent calendar that is used to pass bills without debate.House Bill 429, sponsored by Rep. Chad McCoy, a plaintiffs’ lawyer from Bardstown, would require plaintiffs in most medical-malpractice lawsuits, including those against long-term care facilities, to file a “certificate of merit,” defined as “an affidavit or declaration” saying that the case has been reviewed by a qualified expert who says “that there is reasonable basis to commence the action.”
When presenting the bill to the House on March 1, McCoy, who is also the Republican whip, said all the lobbying interests on the malpractice-claims issue came to the table after the Kentucky Supreme Court struck down a 2017 law that required such claims to go before medical review panels before proceeding.
Chief Justice John Minton wrote in the court’s decision, “Of all the rights guaranteed by state constitutions but absent from the federal Bill of Rights, the guarantee of a right of access to the courts to obtain a remedy for injury is possibly the most important.”
When the 2017 law passed, McCoy warned his colleagues that it wasn’t constitutional, and suggested that the state instead require merit certificates or affidavits. This year, he told them the bill, if passed, would help to stop frivolous lawsuits. Earlier, he told the House Judiciary Committee that the bill was supported by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the nursing-home association and the trial attorneys, and that the Kentucky Hospital Association was neutral.