An important bill to help Missouri attract and retain quality medical providers passed another step on April 1 as House Bill 1173 was approved by a Senate committee.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield, is part of the legislature’s response to a 2012 Missouri Supreme Court ruling that overturned the state’s existing caps on medical malpractice lawsuits.
In 2005, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry supported the establishment of caps and other medical malpractice lawsuit reforms to help lower insurance premiums as well as retain and grow Missouri’s physician community.
The reforms worked. Frivolous claims against physicians dropped tremendously, resulting in the number of claims being reduced from 3,051 to 1,822 in 2011. Since the 2012 ruling that undid the caps, signs indicate the state’s unfettered tort climate is beginning to cause harm. Last year alone, juries awarded three multimillion dollar judgments. These huge judgments threaten to raise the cost of medical malpractice insurance, making it more difficult for physicians to practice in Missouri.
Burlison’s goal is to have a cap on non-economic damages set at $350,000. The Senate Committee on Small Business, Insurance and Industry passed his bill by a vote of 5-1.
The Missouri Chamber testified in favor of Burlison’s bill and is working closely with legislators as they seek to restore the reforms from 2005.
In addition to Burlison’s bill, Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, is sponsoring Senate Bills 583 and 585 which would change evidence standards in medical malpractice suits and limit punitive damages. Sen. Dan Brown, R-Rolla, is also seeking to restore the 2005 reforms with his Senate Bill 589.
For more information about legal legislation, contact Jay Atkins, general counsel for the Missouri Chamber, at email@example.com, or by phone at 573-634-3511.