Bill Pushing Increase in Medical Malpractice Caps Defeated

April 22, 2009

In mid-April, trial attorneys introduced a late session bill in the state legislature that sought to raise limits on medical malpractice claims. HB 1344 would have increased the cap on non-economic malpractice damages to account for inflation, and added an automatic cost-of-living adjustment each year. Automatic cost-of-living adjustments would have added significant uncertainty about future costs and likely caused increases to insurance premiums. The CDA had concerns about provider costs and access-to-care, and opposed the bill’s original approach. The CDA felt that during a time of recession when there is a particular need to expand low cost care and reduce costs, a law of this nature would have the opposite effect.

The Colorado Medical Society and COPIC waged a substantial campaign with the public and through the media to oppose the bill. The CDA communicated its concerns to legislators, the governor and ally healthcare groups.

At the House hearing on the bill, the malpractice cap increases were stricken to address these concerns. The remaining text in the bill addressed the regulatory scheme for malpractice insurance carriers. As the remaining text then seemed superfluous while having the potential for some modest cost implications to providers, the bill was defeated on a subsequent vote in the House.

The cap issue will almost certainly be revisited in the future and the CDA has offered its expertise to policymakers as a reasonable voice in future discussions. The CDA will continue to work to ensure that impacts of any malpractice reform are minimized, especially for those who work with underserved populations and Medicaid.