The Iowa House has voted to limit how much juries can award for pain and suffering in medical malpractice lawsuits. The bill was approved Wednesday on a party-line vote, and republicans say a 250-thousand dollar cap on pain and suffering awards will keep malpractice insurance rates affordable for doctors. Bettendorf representative Joseph Hutter says neurosurgeons are already leaving the Quad Cities, and without a cap, more doctors will be priced out of the market.He says doctors are becoming afraid to practice because they could lose everything they worked to attain in life because of a lawsuit. Supporters say health insurance will become more affordable for consumers if limiting lawsuits leads to lower malpractice insurance rates for doctors. But opponents of the bill say the rates are skyrocketing because insurance companies are losing money on their investments and have to make up for that. Dubuque representative Pam Jochum says she agrees malpractice insurance costs too much, but limiting the rights of Iowans who suffer injury isn’t the answer. Blaming injured Iowans for rising malpractice premiums, she says, is not an “honest answer” or a solution to the problem. Representative Jochum and her fellow democrats tried instead to adopt a 20-percent rate cut for malpractice insurance policies, but failed. Democrats were disappointed but believe the governor will veto this bill if it is approved by the senate.
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