Missouri Coalition Backs Bill, Amendment To Undo Bad High Court Decision
The Missouri State Medical Association has launched a new website to boost the efforts of the Missouri Tort Reform Coalition, an alliance of medical groups and tort reform advocates supporting both legislation and a proposed state constitutional amendment to reverse a 2012 Missouri Supreme Court decision that struck down a reasonable statutory limit on awards for noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. (That court decision was cited among the Dishonorable Mentions in the latest Judicial Hellholes report.)
The MSMA, MTRC, ATRA and others argue that such limits reduce the incentive to file meritless lawsuits, which contribute to rising health care costs and shrinking access to care. The MMA’s “Show-Me Tort Reform” website urges Missourians to contact lawmakers in support of a bill in the House and Senate.
Among facts the website marshals in support of its position are these:
The Medical Malpractice Crisis in Missouri
Missouri is facing a healthcare crisis that could result in fewer doctors, higher costs, less access, and an unfair environment for patients and their families if the legislature does not pass medical malpractice reform. On July 31, 2012, the Missouri Supreme Court overturned the state’s limit on non-economic damages in medical negligence cases by ruling the cap violated the right to trial by jury, overturning more than 20 years of precedent. If the Missouri House of Representatives and State Senate do not pass legislation this year, more money will be diverted away from patient care and into the hands of personal injury attorneys.
What Happened Between 2002-2005 When Missouri Had Ineffective Caps on Non-Economic Damages?
– The number of companies writing policies in Missouri dropped from 32 to 8.
– In 2002, 27% of physicians limited their scope to avoid high-risk patients and procedures.
– In 2004, 49% of physicians admitted the insurance costs caused them to cut staff positions and 28% were compelled to forego updating or acquiring new technology.
– Among neurosurgeons, 53% refused to accept Medicaid patients, 23% refused to accept Medicare patients, and 66% reduced the services they could otherwise provide to their communities.
– By 2004, 1 in 10 Ob/Gyns quit practicing obstetrics due to insurance costs.
What Happened Between 2005 and 2012 When Caps were in Place?
– Missouri gained approximately 1,000 physicians.
– There has been a $44 million decrease in written liability insurance premiums.
– The number of claims filed has fallen 46.9%
– The average indemnity on paid claims fell 20%
House Bill 112 & Senate Bill 105
These bills would amend state law to reinstate $350,000 caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits by exempting a common law exemption adopted in the 1800′s. If passed by the House and Senate, Governor Jay Nixon could stabilize the medical malpractice climate in Missouri within a few months with a stroke of a pen.
Senate Joint Resolution 1
This is a constitutional amendment that would grant the General Assembly the authority to set limits on non-economic damages in civil lawsuits. While this does not specifically set caps in the constitution, it would provide an extra layer of protection for any law challenged in court. If SJR is passed by the legislature, it would require a statewide vote for final approval in 2014 before going into effect.
House Joint Resolution 6
This is a constitutional amendment that would set a $350,000 limit on all non-economic damages in civil lawsuits. If passed by the legislature, HJR 6 would require a statewide vote for final approval in 2014 before going into effect.
Tort Reform Coalition
Missouri State Medical Association
Missouri Hospital Association
Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians & Surgeons
Missouri Health Care Association
Missouri Pharmacy Association
Missouri Insurance Coalition
Washington University School of Medicine
Missouri Radiological Society
Leading Age Missouri
Missouri Association of Rural Health Clinics
Missouri Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons
Missouri Society of Anesthesiologists
Missouri Optometric Association
Missouri Sleep Society
Missouri Dermatological Association
Missouri Association of Nurse Anesthetists
Missouri State Neurological Association
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Missouri Section
Missouri Academy of Family Physicians
Missouri Ambulatory Surgery Center Association
Missouri Society of Interventional Pain Physicians
Missouri Psychiatric Association
Missouri College of Emergency Physicians
Missouri Organization of Defense Lawyers
Missouri Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
National Federation of Independent Business
St. Louis Area Business Health Coalition