Legislative Column for the Week of March 9, 2015
Addressing the High Cost of Medical Malpractice Insurance

There are many factors that come into play which increase the cost of healthcare in this country and in our state. High-tech medical equipment, trained personnel, and state-of-the-art facilities all figure into the rising cost of healthcare.

However, the one issue that seems to propel skyrocketing healthcare costs the most is the steady increase in malpractice insurance for doctors due to frivolous lawsuits. Missouri currently follows an English law that dates back to 1607 for “failure to render healthcare services by a healthcare provider.”

Because of these antiquated laws, doctors were enduring growing malpractice insurance premiums, and many were leaving Missouri to practice in states with laws capping claims from enormous personal injury lawsuits.

This has been a concern in Missouri for quite some time. In 2005, the General Assembly passed legislation setting caps on medical malpractice cases, but the Missouri Supreme Court in 2012 struck down the measure and removed the caps, setting the stage for higher costs for everyone practicing in the medical field.

In order to correct this situation, a bill I sponsored, Senate Bill 239, was passed in the Senate this week, and now moves on to the House for consideration. The bill seeks to set clear, reasonable and defined amounts for non-economic “pain and suffering” claims in a two-tiered system that allows extra compensation for more serious cases.

I believe this will attract more insurance providers to offer competitive liability rates for providers, thus keeping more doctors and healthcare providers in Missouri.

I always encourage my constituents to feel free to contact me throughout the year with comments, questions or suggestions by calling my office at (573) 751-5713. To find more information about the bills I sponsor, or visit www.senate.mo.gov/brown.

Thank you for reading this and for your participation in state government.