Bill Proposes Cap On Damages Awarded In Medical Malpractice Cases

A subcommittee of the House judiciary committee heard testimony on Wednesday for a bill that would put a cap on the amount of damages awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits.

The bill would make $250,000 the maximum amount a jury could award for non-economic damages. The cap would not impact economic damages awarded for lost wages or healthcare costs.

A number of doctors and medical associations spoke in support of the bill, saying higher awards do not reduce errors and could increase the cost of medical care.

“There are a number of practices across the state that are struggling to even get a quote for malpractice coverage, because medical insurers are concerned about their ability to be able to respond to this exploitation of Iowa soft cap and these non-economic damages,” said Dennis Tibben, director of external affairs at the Iowa Medical Association.

But several legal groups opposed the cap saying it’s unconstitutional and would not impact healthcare costs.

“We know that rural hospitals and clinics around the Midwest are struggling,” said Chad Swanson, president of the Iowa Association for Justice. “That has everything to do with shrinking patient populations and Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements and a shrinking available workforce but nothing to do with lawsuits.”

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