Letter to the Editor: Community impact of HF 161

To the Editor:

Thursday, February 16, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed into law a bill placing caps on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases. Veterans Memorial Hospital has advocated for this bill for several years, and we are grateful for Senator Mike Klimesh’s support of this legislation.

This support will allow our hospital to keep our costs low and provide more services to our patients, as well as use money reserved for malpractice insurance for more community programs.

This bill also allows Iowa hospitals to recruit and retain top physicians to our communities. Though Iowa provides a low cost of living, outdoor activities and friendly communities, we could not fully protect providers from malpractice cases with exceedingly high payouts looming overhead. The rising costs of medical malpractice insurance premiums had created an unstable environment for clinicians. With the passage and signing of this bill, the State Legislature protected Iowans’ access to top-tier medical talent and the high-quality care they provide.

Our priority is always the safety of our patients, and our employees and providers diligently work to ensure the best possible outcomes. Though rare, mistakes occur. This bill strikes a balance between providing compensation for noneconomic damages to affected patients and their families and providing incentives to clinicians to plant roots in our great state, thus expanding health care access to more Iowans.

This bill does not fix all the barriers hospitals and Iowa communities face, but this is a key step in the right direction.

Michael Coyle
Veterans Memorial Hospital