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It is hard to believe we are six weeks into session.  This week we passed a much-needed Medical Mal-Practice Reform bill out of our Human Resources Committee. In 2017 we worked on Medical Mal-Practice Insurance and enacted a soft cap on non-economic damages.  That soft cap will not solve the problem of the rising cost of medical malpractice insurance. Iowa is ranked 42nd in the nation and it is becoming more difficult for Iowa to train, recruit and retain medical practitioners.  It is especially important in specialized practices (OBGYN and Psychiatric for example).

As the past chairwoman of the Human Resources Committee, I have worked tirelessly to strengthen our access to Healthcare in the State.  One of the most pressing issues is the lack of providers, especially rural Iowa.  Recruitment and retention of qualified providers is not a unique challenge to our state, but the amounts made on arbitrary non-economic damages (be aware that this bill does not cap Economic or Putative damages) since 2017 is roughly $63M (at the least trial attorney’s took approximately $21M of that).  28 states in the US have also done so ranging from $250K – $1.4M and three states have caps on all damage awards. Our neighboring state of MO enacted a cap on non-economic damages in 2005, driving down claims by 47.1%, defense cost of 54.2% and have added 500 new physicians in the state as well as dropping premiums for health practitioners by $13M.  Practitioners in Iowa will see another 14% increase in medical malpractice insurance costs this year. Making it less desirable to provide services in our state.

Please note, that several Iowa Hospitals have dropped their Medical Residency Programs due the cost of Medical Mal-Practice insurance.  When our Iowa-born and raised medical students cannot stay in Iowa for their residency, they are less likely to return to our state to practice.  This bill is about doing what we can as a Legislature to keep good Iowan’s here to practice medicine and to make our state more attractive to other healthcare practitioners to ensure that we keep a robust healthcare system.

Who is opposed you may ask?  The Trial Attorney’s