House acts to bring back medical malpractice damage caps

Responding to a 2012 Supreme Court ruling, the Missouri House of Representatives has voted to reinstate Missouri’s caps on the amount plaintiffs can collect in medical malpractice cases.

Rep. Eric Burlison’s House Bill 118 would restore the caps on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases. The cap would be $350,000. The House gave first round approval to House Bill 118 by a vote of 101-53.

In 2005, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry successfully advocated for the passage of the caps. It was part of an effort to help lower insurance premiums and grow Missouri’s physician community.

But in 2012, the Missouri Supreme Court voted 4-3 to eliminate the damage caps, creating a disincentive for physicians to practice in Missouri. Rep. Burlison’s bill would address this problem.

“The providers and the businesses in our state are deeply concerned about the impact of this court decision,” said Rep. Burlison, in his remarks on the House floor on March 4. “They believe it will result in increased difficult or even the inability to recruit or attract qualified physician to Missouri and result in the loss of Missouri jobs. Also as a result of the ruling, we will inevitably see increases in the cost of health care and decreases in the access to care for Missouri patients.”

A recently-released Gallup survey shows that 80 percent of Missouri business leaders say they expect health care costs will increase significantly in upcoming years. In addition, 71 percent of business leaders say health care costs will limit business growth in coming years. The Gallup survey was commissioned by the Missouri Chamber as part of the Missouri 2030 strategic plan for economic growth. Learn more about the plan at http://www.mo2030.com.

“As a state, we’ve already long-delayed our work to restore these noneconomic damage caps. We applaud the House vote and urge them to act quickly to send the bill to the Senate for further discussion,” said Jay Atkins, Missouri Chamber general counsel and director of governmental affairs. “House Bill 118 has the potential to be a game changer, restoring a positive environment for physician practice and helping ensure Missouri remains competitive for health care costs.”

For more information about legal legislation, contact Jay Atkins at jatkins@mochamber.com, or by phone at 573-634-3511.

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About mochamber

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry understands that the quality of life in our state depends on quality jobs for Missourians. To that end, we have one simple mission: to protect and advance Missouri business.

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