Governor Tom Vilsack has asked Iowa’s Insurance Commissioner to review recent medical malpractice cases in Iowa to check on jury awards. Vilsack’s request comes after republican lawmakers sent him a bill which would place a 250-thousand dollar limit on “pain and suffering” awards in medical malpractice cases. Vilsack says he believes medical malpractice awards in Iowa have actually declined in recent years. Doctors complain their medical malpractice liability insurance premiums are going up so fast, they’ll soon be forced to quit offering some medical services. Vilsack has about a month to make a decision on the bill, and he’s asked the Insurance Commissioner to quickly amass the data on verdicts in Iowa medical malpractice cases. Vilsack says he suspects the 250-thousand dollar limit would have no impact on the insurance rates doctors are paying, but the governor says he doesn’t want to make that conclusion until he’s got the facts in hand. Vilsack says if limiting the amount victims can get in medical malpractice cases isn’t working to lower doctors’ liability insurance rates, then he and other state policymakers should find “the right answer” to the problem. Vilsack is an attorney, and the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association has strongly lobbied against the bill, saying other states which have established limits on medical malpractice awards haven’t seen medical malpractice insurance become more affordable for doctors. Hundreds of doctors held a rally earlier this year at the statehouse, urging lawmakers and the governor to place “caps” on what patients may receive for the “pain and suffering” caused by medical mistakes.
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