Iowa Senate passes $250,000 limit on medical liability damages

On April 12, the Iowa Senate passed H.F. 2440, which caps non-economic damages in medical liability cases at $250,000. Following debate, the measure passed by a vote of 27 to 21. It had been narrowly defeated a week earlier, but Senate leadership secured a motion to reconsider it before the April 12 vote.

Iowa Medical Society (IMS) President Tom Evans, MD, said he is pleased with the vote. "Skyrocketing medical liability premiums are forcing Iowa doctors to cut services, leave the state or quit practicing medicine," he said. "With today's vote in the Senate, it's clear that our legislators also are concerned about their constituents' ability to access care."

The victory comes just five weeks after AMA President-elect John C. Nelson, MD, joined Dr. Evans for an AMA National House Call to support Iowa physicians' battle for medical liability reform. As part of the House Call, Drs. Nelson and Evans met with physician leaders, toured several hospitals and met with the editorial board of The Des Moines Register. The AMA has joined several states' medical organizations for National House Calls to advocate for reforms to end the medical liability crisis that already plagues 19 states and threatens more than 20 others.

The bill is expected to go before the Iowa governor within 10 days. "We're hopeful that Governor Vilsack will give this bill his undivided attention and work with the legislature to make sure Iowans have access to orthopedic surgeons, obstetric care, trauma specialists and the many other health care services we've come to expect," said Dr. Evans.

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