Unnecessary Liability and High Health Care Costs – How We Can Create Positive Reforms for Doctors, Hospitals, and Patients #MOMiracle

Health care costs are skyrocketing across the country. While there are many contributing factors we can’t control, there is a factor in Missouri we can control: reducing hospitals’ malpractice liability.

In 2005, the General Assembly approved legislation that limited the liability of hospitals when the defendant was not an employee of the hospital. Nine years later, a Missouri Appeals Court ruled that a broader definition of employee must be used because of a drafting error. That decision, Jefferson v. Missouri Baptist, greatly expanded hospitals’ liability for the actions of physicians and other practitioners who do not work for the hospitals—leading to higher insurance premiums for hospitals and higher costs for Missouri consumers.

This week I carried a common-sense measure that restores a firm distinction between hospital employees and non-employees. Senate Bill 237 corrects the error identified by the courts and limits medical liability to the responsible party for malpractice, not the party with the deepest pockets.

To hold a hospital accountable for the actions of somebody it doesn’t pay, and whose medical diagnoses it doesn’t control, is unfair and drives up health care costs for everyone. By limiting malpractice liability to the responsible party and removing this imbalance created by the courts, we bring much-needed stability and clarity to malpractice insurance and help keep medical costs down for every Missourian.

Sen. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia

District 19

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