A bill that cleared a Senate committee this week would set $750,000 as the new cap on so-called “non-economic” damages that a family, children or spouses could receive.
Senator Zach Whiting, a Republican from Spirit Lake, said these are the kind of “intangible losses” that are commonly referred to as “pain and suffering.”
“There’s a concern, particularly in the medical community, that uncapped non-economic damages could have a negative impact on access to care for Iowans….as a physician may no longer see a high-risk patient,” Whiting said. “…They may no longer offer high-risk or cutting-edge procedures.”
Critics say the bill is unfair to families who’ve lost a loved one due to a medical mistake. Senator Rob Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, voted against the bill in committee.
“If you pass this bill and it becomes law, you will take away from the jury the right to say that when medical professionals just totally screw up and kill somebody…recovery is limited to $750,000,” Hogg said.
In 2017, the Republican-led Iowa legislature enacted a $250,000 limit for emotional pain and suffering damage awards when health care providers are found liable for medical negligence. However, that current “cap” or limit does not apply if a patient dies.