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House Speaker Jones Makes Medical Malpractice Caps A Top Priority For 2014

Tim Jones
Mo. House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, at a press conference Thursday in Jefferson City, announcing that restoring caps on medical malpractice damages will be a top priority in 2014/Credit: Marshall Griffin

The Speaker of the Missouri House is pushing lawmakers to restore caps on damages in medical malpractice lawsuits.  St. Louis Public Radio’s Marshall Griffin reports.

A 2005 Missouri law created a 350-thousand dollar cap on non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.  But that cap was tossed out in 2012 by the Missouri Supreme Court.  House Speaker Tim Jones says without the cap, millions of dollars could be shifted from patient care to legal defense costs:

“Unless we act, we’re encouraging health care costs to increase, as many of our best doctors, nurses, and health care providers inevitably flee our state and simply walk across the border.”

The Missouri House passed a malpractice cap bill last year, but it died in the Senate.  Opponents say restoring caps would protect insurance companies at the expense of medical malpractice victims. So far, two measures have been filed in the Missouri House to restore caps on damages, House Bill 1173, and House Joint Resolution 45, which Springfield Republican Rep. Eric Burlison has sponsored and co-sponsored, respectively. The latter would place medical malpractice caps in the Missouri Constitution.

Two measures that would restore caps have been filed so far in the Missouri House.