Three years after a Missouri Supreme Court decision put Missouri’s medical community at risk, the General Assembly has completed work on a bill that would protect health care providers from unlimited lawsuit payouts.
Currently in Missouri, there are no caps on the amount of money plaintiffs can receive in medical malpractice lawsuit cases. Having an uncapped malpractice litigation environment leads to higher medical malpractice insurance costs for all physicians, making Missouri a less appealing place to practice medicine. This situation has existed since 2012, when the state’s Supreme Court released a decision that eliminated Missouri’s previous medical lawsuit caps.
But with the passage of Senate Bill 239, a bill that received bipartisan support, Missouri is close to restoring balance in the state’s malpractice litigation system.
“Physician practices, like all businesses, look at cost when they choose where to do business. Right now, Missouri’s medical litigation climate is driving up insurance expenses and that’s making it harder for communities in our state to attract the doctors we need,” said Daniel P. Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “This is more than a business issue. This is an issue where our legislature is trying to ensure we have the health care we need for the residents of our state. On behalf of the business community, I’d like to thank the leaders in the Missouri House and Senate for passing this bill. Now it’s up to Governor Jay Nixon to sign this bill and ensure Missouri is a place where doctors want to practice.”
Senate Bill 239 would place a $400,000 cap on noneconomic damage awards in medical malpractice cases. For catastrophic and wrongful death cases, the cap would be $700,000. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Dan Brown, a Republican from Rolla, and was handled in the House by Rep. Eric Burlison, a Republican from Springfield.
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry (www.mochamber.com) was founded in 1923 and is the largest business organization in Missouri, representing almost 3,000 employers, providing more than 425,000 jobs for Missourians.