A senate committee voted along party lines Monday to set a 250-thousand dollar cap on damage awards for pain and suffering in medical malpractice lawsuits. Senate Majority Leader Stewart Iverson, a republican from Dows, says without the cap, some doctors may not be able to afford to continue practicing. He says Iowa does not have a history of having large malpractice lawsuits. Iverson says talked with a doctor who has a brother practicing in California. He says the doctor in California has lower insurance premiums even though Iowa has fewer big lawsuits, because California has a damage cap. Iverson says insurance companies look at the potential liability when setting insurance rates. Iverson says the state needs to get a handle on the issue before it’s too late. He says “we don’t want it to become a crisis before we try to address some of these things.” He says there are some states that have literally lost so many practicing doctors, that they have a crisis on their hands. Senate democrats, though, say the insurance companies are gouging doctors because they’re making less money on investments these days. Senator Dick Dearden, a Des Moines democrat, says capping pain and suffering damages would have little impact on the cost of healthcare, but would really hamper someone with a legitimate claim.He says 250-thousand dollars is nothing compared to someone who suffers a lifetime injury. He says we don’t know what 250-thousand dollars will buy years from now, and says it certainly won’t buy good health. Democrats say if the malpractice cap is approved by the full legislature, the governor will surely veto it.
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