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The Iowa Senate is now in the third week of the legislative session and members have been busy with committee and subcommittee work. Here are the bills moving in committee and will soon be ready for debate on the Senate floor:

Tort Reform:  This bill is sparking a lot of discussion in the statehouse and I am hearing from constituents on it. I have been opposed to this in the past and see no reason to change. This bill places a hard cap of $1 million on non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. This, for all practical purposes, denies Iowans that sustain egregious injuries or death due to a breach in the standard of care their 7th Amendment right to a jury trial. This hard cap will cut off access to the courts for the worst cases, the cases that need justice the most. Iowans expect us to protect victims: that’s what a right to a jury trial is all about. Some say that no one will lose their right to a jury trial but in certain circumstances that is not true. You can’t put a price on a life, especially if you have not heard the facts of each unique case. This is the job of the judicial branch, not the legislative branch.

This is of no concern to you if you do not suffer severely from medical malpractice. But how do you know it won’t be you tomorrow? Would you want a settlement of $1 million if it was you or one of your non-income-earning loved ones, a child or a grandchild or an elder parent? Your share of $1 million would likely be about $600,000. Would $600,000 be enough for the rest of your life, say if you lost the ability to walk? Would you sooner have your loved one back OR the $600,000?

Arguments are made that we need to keep hospitals from closing, particularly birthing centers. Medical malpractice damages awarded in a lawsuit are actually an extremely small percent of health care costs. The issue with hospitals especially in rural areas is low Medicaid/Medicare reimbursement rates plus there are simply not enough babies being born to justify keeping birthing centers open, according to the manager at a birthing center that recently closed.

Some say that we are driving doctors out of the state and that our liability environment discourages doctors from coming to Iowa. Actually, statistics show that the number of doctors in Iowa has increased over the past 10 years and that states with no hard caps have the most doctors.

I also hear that high jury awards due to no hard caps contribute to the high cost of medical malpractice insurance premiums. However, in the last 10 years medical malpractice insurance premiums have stayed relatively stable in Iowa.

The actual number of medical malpractice cases in Iowa are extremely low and numbers are relatively stable. Studies show the same doctors account for a substantial portion of those cases. This tells us that the vast majority of doctors are doing a good job and care about their patients and attend to the standard of care. It appears the medical profession, like all professions, need to be proactive to weed out the “bad apples”.

E-Verify:  Prohibits employers from knowingly employing unauthorized illegals. The employer is required to check a prospective employee’s status through the federal E-Verify program.

Repeal of Mandatory Gender Balance for Boards & Commissions:  This bill will allow the most qualified applicants to be considered for appointment to a board or commission regardless of their sex. This is intended to especially help our rural areas where local officials say they sometimes find it difficult to meet that requirement.

Assault with a Laser:  Makes it an assault-type crime to point a laser at an aircraft.

Car Seats:  This bill increases the ages that children are required to be in car seats. For rear-facing seats, this bill increases the age and weight requirements from 1 year and less than 20 pounds to 2 years and less than 30 pounds. For front-facing booster seats or car seats, this bill increases the age requirement from 6 to 8 years. What do you think of that?

Author: Sandy Salmon


  1. On the extension of Car Seats I feel we are not left to make up our own mind about what is best for our children and grandchildren. Has not the Government interfered enough in our lives to again tells us, the parents and grandparents what is best for our own children!! Did not Iowa just pass a Student Savings account bill leaving a choice to parents!! Why then do we need further government intervention regarding our choices!!! Double standards if you ask me!!

  2. I’m not sure I agree with purposed carseat changes as a former foster parent and now child care provider. Especially moving it up to 8 year olds from 6 year olds.


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