The state House has passed legislation to reinstate caps on the amount that could be awarded to plaintiffs for non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. The bill would limit those damages to $350,000.
Proponents say the legislation would keep medical malpractice insurance premiums paid by doctors lower, making it easier for doctors to stay in business in Missouri and keeping down the cost of health care. Opponents say it infringes on the rights of Missourians to have a jury decide what appropriate damages would be.
Representative Stanley Cox (R-Sedalia) argued for the legislation, saying it will keep doctors from making the decision to leave Missouri for a state that does limit those damages.
“They make decisions based on economics,” Cox says of doctors, “and if you can go 80 miles west of Sedalia and practice in a more hospitable environment, you might make that decision.”
Representative Stephen Webber (D-Columbia) says the legislation will put more control over the care of patients in the hands of insurance companies rather than doctors.
“The truth is that this bill will make it more difficult for doctors to get the approved treatment, to get the approved tests, approved by the insurance company to take care of their patients,” Webber argues. “This will make it more difficult for doctors to do the thing they love more than anything else in the world, which is make sure their patents get quality treatment.”