For Immediate Release:
March 12, 2015
Contact: Betty Pringer
(573) 751-5713

Senate Advances Measure to Keep Doctors in the Show-Me State

Bill Will Help Lower Skyrocketing Medical Malpractice Insurance Rates

JEFFERSON CITY — Missourians are one step closer to having better access to quality healthcare at lower costs. The Senate advanced a bill today that will reduce incentives for frivolous lawsuits and will lower the skyrocketing medical malpractice insurance rates that are forcing doctors to raise costs or move out-of-state.

Senate Leader Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, said this issue has been a Senate priority, and it will create a better work environment to attract more doctors to the state.

“By reinstating caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits, we will reduce incentives for these frivolous lawsuits,” said Dempsey. “Overall, it means more accessible health care for all Missourians.”

In 2005, the General Assembly sought to reform the state’s civil liability system by lowering the caps on jury awards for pain and suffering in medical malpractice cases. In 2012, the Missouri Supreme Court struck down the legislation and removed the caps that had been put in place.   

“We are now starting to see some of the effects on medical malpractice insurance premiums since the Supreme Court decision as they continue to rise,” said bill sponsor Sen. Dan Brown, R-Rolla. “We need to support our medical professionals who provide Missourians the quality care they deserve.”

Senate Bill 239 creates a statutory cause of action for damages against health care providers. This bill seeks to set a clear, reasonable and defined amount that is available in lawsuits claiming damages for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, which are difficult to quantify.  Senate Bill 239 reinstates these caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractices lawsuits in a two-tiered system that allows extra compensation for people with more serious injuries. For personal injury cases, the cap will be at $400,000. For catastrophic personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits, the cap for non-economic damages will be at $700,000.

“Doctors need certainty going forward,” said Majority Floor Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin. “Ultimately, changes in the law will attract more insurance providers to offer competitive liability insurance to doctors and care providers in Missouri.”

The measure now moves to the House. To learn more about this bill or to track its progress, visit

Lauren Hieger, Senate Majority Caucus Communications Director
(573) 751-7266 —