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August 8, 2003

Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) commends Governor Jeb Bush, Senate President Jim King (R-Jacksonville), and House Speaker Johnnie Byrd (R-PlantCity) for their leadership on developing compromise legislation to address the medical-liability crisis that is gripping the state. Also deserving recognition are Senators Tom Lee (R-Brandon) and Rod Smith (D-Gainesville) and Representatives Dudley Goodlette (R-Naples) and Allan Bense (R-Panama City) who devoted long hours of thoughtful debate to crafting a compromise on this difficult issue.

“The compromise lays a strong foundation for the future,” said Jon L. Shebel, AIF’s president and CEO. “From the beginning, AIF supported a $250,000 California-style cap, but we believe that the House and Senate have struck a bargain that will provide significant relief in the long term.”

Art Simon, AIF’s senior vice president for governmental affairs, helped to shepherd the last major medical-liability reform bills through the Legislature in mid 1980s. “We’re now in the third generation of medical-liability crises,” he said. “While we specifically declined to enact a hard cap in 1985 and 1988, with hindsight I believe that we could have avoided or ameliorated the problems we’re facing today if the cap provisions of this compromise bill had gone into effect 15 years ago. With the passage of this legislation, we hopefully should be able to avoid a repeat of this dilemma another 15 years down the road.”

Shebel also said, “What we’ve got is a compromise that may not be perfect, but in lawmaking, a good compromise is usually better than no compromise at all.”

Associated Industries of Florida is a statewide employers association representing 11,000 businesses that range from large multinational corporations to small family-owned enterprises. AIF is commonly known as “The Voice of Florida Business.”