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McCarty testifies in favor of ballot issue restoring non-economic damage caps

Associated Industries of Missouri president testified this week in favor of a ballot issue that would reinstate caps on non-economic damage awards.

State Representative Bill White (R-Joplin) sponsors House Joint Resolution 45. The joint resolution would send the reinstatement of the state’s caps on non-economic damages to the people of Missouri for a vote this coming November.

The legislature instituted a cap on economic damages at $350,000 with legislation in 2005. The caps were seen as a key component in the battle to hold down sky rocketing medical malpractice insurance rates.

The Missouri Supreme Court in 2012 ruled that the caps violated the state constitution’s guarantee of right to trial by jury. HJR 45 is worded to overcome the court’s objection.

AIM president Ray McCarty says the organization supports the right of Missouri voters to decide if they want the General Assembly to limit non-economic damage awards.

“The non-economic damage caps that were in place prior to the recent court case helped control medical malpractice insurance rates in Missouri,” McCarty told the House’s Emerging Issues in Health Care Committee. “The courts invalidated the caps on a technicality and this joint resolution allows the people’s voice to be heard on the issue.”

HJR 45 shares the same purpose as HB 1173 sponsored by Rep. Eric Burlison (R-Springfield). If passed by both the House and Senate, House Bill 1173 would go into state statute on the governor’s signature. House Bill 1173 received a committee hearing on January 29th, at which McCarty testified in support.

On Wednesday, the Emerging Issues in Healthcare Committee voted in favor of Burlison’s bill. It now moves on to the House Rules Committee.

If Burlison’s bill would make it through the legislative process, the decision would rest with Governor Nixon on whether to sign the bill into law. HJR 45 allows Missouri voters the opportunity to let their voices be heard.

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