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April 2nd, 2013

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%

Legislation

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.

House Bill 112 (Summary) House Bill 112 (Full Text)
Senate Bill 105 (Summary) Senate Bill 105 (Full Text)

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.

SJR 1 (Summary)SJR 1 (Full Text)

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.

HJR 6 (Summary) HJR 6 (Full Text)

News

– Missouri House seeks to limit medical liability

– Letter from Stephen Slocum, MD, President of the Missouri State Medical Association.

American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) Critical of Missouri High Court Decision Striking Down Legislated Limits on Noneconomic Damages

AMA: The Cost of Fighting Medical Liability Lawsuits

– American Tort Reform Association: Noneconomic Damages Reform

– Insurance Journal: Missouri House Panel Considers Medical Liability Limits

– Eldorado Springs Sun: Missouri Lawmakers Propose Restoring Caps on Medical Malpractice Payouts

– KSMU: Burlison Pre-files Bill to Reinstate Caps in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

– National Poll: Voters Say Litigation is Hurting Economy, They’re More Likely to Support Pro-Tort Reform Candidates

– (ARCHIVE) Wall Street Journal: How Missouri Cut Junk Lawsuits, By Former Governor Matt Blunt

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

BJC Healthcare

National Federation of Independent Business

St. Louis Area Business Health Coalition

Click Here to Add Your Group to the Coalition

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