AIA Applauds Iowa Legislature’s Passage on Med-Mal Reform; Bill Sent to Governor

April 15, 2004

The American Insurance Association (AIA) has commended the Iowa General Assembly for enacting a cap on non-economic damage awards in medical malpractice cases as the state grapples with ways to stabilize its medical liability insurance market and address the growing access to care crisis.

“With its passage of H.F. 2440, the Iowa legislature has demonstrated a commitment to real reform of the state’s medical liability market,” said Sean McManamy, AIA assistant vice president, Midwest Region. “This is a victory for patients and an attempt to address an access-to-care crisis now growing in Iowa. A cap on non-economic damage awards is the centerpiece to any comprehensive reform effort and Iowa joins several other states in recognizing the root cause of the problem – out-of-control jury awards and settlements that needlessly drive up costs.”

The Iowa Senate passed H.F. 2440, the “Non-economic Damage Awards Against Health Care Providers Act,” this week. The bill places a $250,000 cap on non-economic damage awards in medical malpractice cases against physicians, advanced registered nurse practitioners, hospitals and health care facilities except upon a finding of actual malice on the part of the defendant. The bill now goes to Gov. Tom Vilsack (D).

“We urge Gov. Vilsack to sign this bill and help lead Iowa down the path to a more stable, predictable and healthy medical liability market,” added McManamy.

Iowa was labeled by the American Medical Association in July 2003 as a state showing “problem signs” that could lead to a full medical liability crisis.

Many states, including neighboring Missouri and Wisconsin, have caps on non-economic damages and Congress is again considering a bill to establish a similar $250,000 cap.

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