By Jonathan Kaminsky
(Reuters) – An Alabama doctor-turned-lawmaker is seeking to overturn a state law named for one of his patients, whose death 16 years earlier triggered legislation requiring insurers to pay for minimum post-pregnancy hospital stays, records show.
“Rose’s Law,” named after 36-year-old Rose Church, who died of a heart attack 10 days after giving birth in 1998, requires insurers in Alabama to cover post-pregnancy hospital stays up to 48 hours. It was championed by her widower, Gene Church, who said she was discharged too quickly and without proper tests.
State Senator Larry Stutts, a Republican first elected in November 2014, was Church’s gynecologist at the time of her death, and was named in a lawsuit filed by the widower. Stutts introduced his measure on March 18, billing it in a subsequent Facebook posting as a means to eliminate intrusion into doctor-patient relations and as getting rid of “one-size-fits-all Obamacare-style laws.”
Church views it differently.
“This was a personal vendetta. The irony is that 16 years later no one remembered what happened with my wife, or very few people did,” Church said. “Now, sadly for him, everybody is going to know.”
Church filed a lawsuit against Stutts, the hospital where his wife gave birth and a second doctor, alleging medical malpractice. It was settled on confidential terms.
Church, 54, who now resides in Florida, said he had been unaware of the doctor’s recent election until Church’s daughter, now 16, told him of the attempt to undo “Rose’s Law.”
Several state lawmakers, after learning in recent days of Stutts’s connection to the original law – first reported on Sunday by the news website Alabama Political Reporter – have called Church and said they would not support its repeal, Church said, adding the odds of it being overturned are remote.
Stutts did not immediately respond to messages left at his legislative and medical offices.
The measure, Senate Bill 289, which has six co-sponsors, would also end a requirement that doctors inform women when finding dense breast tissue, which is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, during a mammogram.
(Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky in New Orleans; Editing by Ken Wills)