WASHINGTON - Senate Democrats on Monday blocked Republican medical malpractice legislation during the GOP’s opening session of a "health week" of proposals designed to win support from conservative voters – if not passage.

The dispatch of a pair of bills to cap the amount of damages juries can award in medical malpractice cases has been expected since last week. The roll calls fell well short of the 60 votes Republicans needed to advance the bill.

Republicans forced votes on the bills to demonstrate the GOP’s commitment to fighting what Majority Leader Bill Frist called a "litigation lottery."

"It really boils down to the fact that health care dollars should be spent on patients and not on lawyers who are out abusing the system," said Frist, R-Tenn.

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