SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — The Iowa Legislature will discuss a bill that would place a cap on how much Iowans can be awarded for non-economic medical malpractice damages. 

If Senate Study Bill 1063 becomes law, Iowans who suffer physical, mental or emotional pain from medical malpractice would not be able to win more than $1 million in a lawsuit against a healthcare provider.

Sam Clovis is suing a northwest Iowa hospital for medical malpractice. Clovis is a former Republican candidate for US Senate. While he supported a cap on medical malpractice lawsuits in 2014, he said a personal experience changed his perspective.

“When I was injured, I’m on the other side of it and I certainly see it from the patient or plaintiff’s perspective and that is a very compelling argument,” he said.

Iowa law has a non-economic damages cap at $250,000, but that cap does not apply if a jury determines a case involves loss of body function, death, or if the defendant acted with malice. Under this bill, the only exception that would be allowed for this new cap of $1 million is if a jury finds the defendant acted out of malice.

Stephen Avery is an attorney in Spencer, Iowa. He said if this bill passes, Iowans may be less inclined to file these lawsuits.

“It might impact the very serious cases for reason that the expense of pursuing a medical malpractice case is large and depending on the nature of the bill that is passed, it could discourage pursuit of appropriate recovery,” said Avery.

Senator Jeff Taylor said retaining rural health care providers is a serious problem, but this bill is not the solution.

“I don’t think that the lack of state government control over local jury judgments where harm is occurred at the hands of healthcare providers is the only reason for our problems when it comes to rural providers,” Taylor said. “I don’t even think it’s the central reason.”

Senator Kevin Alons echoed Taylor’s point. 

“I just don’t think this bill in the end is actually going to make a meaningful change in those things,” Alons said. “I don’t think that’s a primary driver in why we might want to have more doctors. It’s not one of the costs that doctors are facing.”

The bill passed out of a judiciary committee and Taylor said it’s waiting to be brought to the senate floor.