Legislature Passes Medical Malpractice Caps

Des Moines, Iowa — Most Republicans in the Iowa House and Senate have voted to set limits on pain and suffering damages from medical malpractice lawsuits.

The move has been one of the governor’s priorities. Under the new guidelines, those non-economic damages for medical malpractice claims against hospitals would be limited to a maximum of two million dollars. For clinics, nursing homes, and individual physicians the cap would be one million. Representative Ann Meyer, a Republican from Fort Dodge who’s a nurse, says the cost of liability insurance is hurting the recruitment and retention of doctors, particularly in rural areas.

The bill faced opposition from Democrats and 16 Republicans voted against it. Republican Representative Mark Cisneros of Muscatine says these aren’t frivolous lawsuits and more than 20 other states have similar caps that aren’t reducing medical malpractice insurance rates.

Senator Jeff Reichman is among the majority of Republicans who voted for the bill. He’s from Montrose, a 15-minute drive from the hospital that closed in Keokuk last fall.

Representative Megan Jones, a Republican from Sioux Rapids, says lawmakers are forgetting that medical malpractice verdicts for pain and suffering are for pain and suffering.

Senator Jason Schultz, a Republican from Schleswig, says guardrails in the bill are necessary to prevent verdicts that can cause closures or bankruptcies for healthcare facilities.

Senator Nate Boulton, a Democrat from Des Moines who’s an attorney, says victims of medical malpractice who win verdicts have suffered horrifically.

Governor Reynolds says the bill is reasonable medical malpractice reform that will help Iowa’s health care system be more reasonable and accessible. Under the bill, economic losses and punitive damages for medical malpractice victims would remain unlimited. It also calls for the creation of a task force to study medical errors.



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