Minn. House Committee OKs Med-Mal Limit

March 2, 2004

After deliberating whether it would hurt already injured patients and not lower health care costs, opponents of a measure that would limit damages in malpractice suits failed to strip the controversial provision from a House health care cost containment bill Monday, according to the Pioneer Press.

Rep. Fran Bradley, R-Rochester, the bill’s chief author, did ease some of the financial sting for injured patients by dropping a $300,000 cap on all medical malpractice settlements involving nonprofit hospitals.

Pioneer Press reported that he did, however, retain a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages awarded for things such as pain and suffering, disfigurement and loss of companionship.

Bradley said he never favored economic caps but, when asked earlier to have nonprofit hospitals treated like government hospitals, he thought it was a good idea. Government hospitals have a $300,000 cap on total malpractice settlements, according to Pioneer Press. Bradley explained that testimony gathered during hearings on the bill persuaded him to drop the cap.

Pioneer Press said the failed amendment to drop the entire medical malpractice portion of the bill was introduced by Rep. Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul, who called the caps “grossly unfair.”

Paymar argued that Minnesota has one of the lowest medical malpractice insurance rates in the nation, according to Pioneer Press. He also said studies show that limits on damage awards don’t lower health care costs, and potentially significant financial settlements help keep health care providers on their toes.

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