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St. Charles/Lincoln County Medical Society


Legislative News

DOCTORS DISAPPOINTED IN FAILED OVERRIDE OF TORT REFORM

The Missouri State Medical Association (MSMA) which represents more than 6,000 physicians statewide, expressed strong disappointment in the failed override of Governor Bob Holden’s veto of House Bill 1304, the tort reform package which passed the General Assembly with bi-partisan support earlier in the session.

“The physicians of the state are gravely disappointed because the efforts to ensure patients’ access to care was not recognized in the failed attempt to override Governor Holden’s veto of HB 1304,” stated Dr. Edmond Cabbabe, president of the Missouri State Medical Association.

"As the medical professional liability insurance crisis continues to escalate, more and more physicians are abandoning high-risk practices such as obstetrics, neuro and trauma surgery, and leaving clinics and hospitals in plaintiffs' friendly court districts such as the cities of St. Louis and Kansas City. Many more physicians are retiring early because they cannot pass the sky-high premiums and other rising costs of doing business onto their patients. Other physicians have moved to states where meaningful legislation is enacted including a lower cap on non-economic damages and other reforms. The states of Indiana, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Texas are among those states," said Cabbabe.

"We do appreciate the bipartisan efforts of those in the legislatures who worked hard in the interest of their constituents in attempting to override the veto. They put the people of Missouri above politics in their attempt to deliver our state from this tremendous crisis," said Cabbabe.

The medical community will continue to seek a solution to the crisis through meaningful reforms.
>> Read Entire MSMA Statement


GOVERNOR VETOES HB 1304

Surprising no one but disappointing many, Governor Holden vetoed HB 1304 on Tuesday (April 27). The top objection in his veto message was that the bill didn’t contain any insurance regulation. This even though HB 1305, an insurance regulation bill that his own Department of Insurance testified in support of, is close to being on his desk (it is already through the House and has won first-round approval in the Senate). The Governor sent the House and Senate a package of insurance and tort reforms that he said he could sign. His proposed bill includes several insurance reforms, most of which are embodied in the aforementioned HB 1305, some language enhancing the state’s ability to start up its own insurance entity via a joint underwriting association, and a smattering of tort reforms.

The proposed tort reforms? Not a word about venue shopping, nothing on collateral sources, nothing on joint and several liability, nothing on statute of limitations for minors, nothing on punitive damages, and nothing on trauma care. So what does it do? Read MSMA Legislative Report No. 16 for details on this and the Department of Insurance Report.

Within the next week or so the House of Representatives will attempt to override the Governor’s veto of HB 1304 (tort reform). The following representatives have been identified as those who might be convinced to vote for the override, even though most of them voted against the bill the first time around. If any of these legislators represent an area near you (or any of your patients), please call their Capitol office as soon as possible and urge them to support the override. Remind them that this is about your patients and their access to care, and remind them that we cannot wait another year to address this crisis.

HB 1304 Goes To The Governor

After a long, bizarre series of rarely-used parliamentary maneuvers and counter-maneuvers, Senate Republicans this morning (April 22) brought closure to a filibuster and moved HB 1304 to a final vote. When the dust settled the bill was passed 21-13, with Democrats Charles Wheeler and Wayne Goode in support, and Sarah Steelman as the lone Republican in opposition. The House considered the bill on Monday, and had little trouble passing it. The vote there was 93-61, with nine Democrats voting in support (Reps. Page, Seigfreid, Skaggs, Meiners, Lawson, Barnitz, Bringer, Selby, and B. Harris).

The whole package now goes to the Governor who must sign or veto the bill within fifteen days. There still is no word from the Governor’s office, but most observers believe he will veto the bill, even though it is not nearly as broad as the bill he vetoed last year.If he does veto it, we will have an opportunity to override his decision before the General Assembly adjourns on May 14. So let the pressure begin.

Drop whatever you are doing right now, and write or call the Governor. His address: Honorable Bob Holden, Executive Offices, State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO 65101. His telephone: 573-751-3222. Urge him to sign HB 1304 into law. (Source: MSMA Legislative Report #15, Lizabeth Fleenor)

HB 1304 Key Points:

  • Lowers cap on non economic damages to $350,000 – no inflation increases
  • Restricts filing of in-state claims to the counties where the actions occur
  • Restricts joint and several liability – defendant must be at least 51% at fault
  • Addresses affidavit of merit – expert must be licensed and certified in substantially the same profession and specialty as the defendant
See below for tips on contacting your elected officials. In addition to posting legislative updates on our website, we encourage you to visit MSMA's website to keep up to date with legislative news affecting all physicians.

 

Suggested Links for Legislative News:

Missouri State Medical Association - www.MSMA.org

 

On the home page of this site you will see the latest Tort Reform news.  Members may visit the secure area for other important legislative updates.


The Library of Congress' Website
- http://thomas.loc.gov

How you can take Legislative Action:

Call your Congressional Representatives

Ask your Senator to support physicians and women all across America. The phone number for the Capitol Switchboard is (202) 224-3121.  From there you can be connected to your senator and other congressional representatives.


Send a Letter

Let your Senator know that you support Medicare Physician Payment Increase. For a printable copy of an appropriate letter, click here.   (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)



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