Missouri legislature debates medical costs in civil lawsuits

Republicans mean to keep out of pocket expenses of insurance companies only in review, while Democrats want to expand that figure

Insurance News

By Lyle Adriano

On Feb. 17, the Missouri Senate gave initial approval to a bill that would require actual medical costs to be considered as evidence in civil lawsuits, instead of the value of medical treatments for the plaintiffs.

The bill was heavily debated over by both Republicans and Democrats since the day before.

Republicans in support of the bill assert that only the out-of-pocket expenses of insurance companies and victims can be reviewed in a trial, and the cost of care should not be considered.

"If you were the defendant, you would know exactly what the medical cost was," argued Republican Sen. Ed Emery. "It's a hard number."

Democrats say that the bill could lead to lesser compensation to victims in personal injury lawsuits.

"At the end of the day, it's going to end up, in my view, unfairly reducing the amount of compensation that's paid to the plaintiff, the victim," said Democratic Sen. Jill Schupp.

During the debate that started the day before, disputes between both parties over what the bill would do if enacted pushed Democrats to block a vote, causing a standoff that lasted all night.

It was only by the next day, Feb. 17, at 6am that the stalemate ended, when senators adopted several changes that Democrats proposed to the legislation. One of the changes was adding language to ensure that costs would count what both insurance companies and victims pay in medical fees.

The bill needs another vote of approval before it passes on to the House for review.

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