The state Senate passed a bill last night that would implement a fund to hold down doctors' insurance rates and set limits on malpractice lawsuits.

The bill, which passed, 42-4, and moves to the House, cleans up technical problems in a medical malpractice reform compromise bill the General Assembly passed over Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s objections in a special legislative session in December.

Supporters say the bill is needed for the state to begin payments in an effort to hold increases in doctors' malpractice insurance to 5 percent a year.

Last week, Republicans in the Senate tried unsuccessfully to attach more stringent lawsuit limits to the bill, including lower damages and attorneys' fees.