JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The House passed SB 847 to modify the collateral source rule, the cause of a 13 hour filibuster in the Senate earlier this session, after a contentious debate Tuesday morning, requiring that plaintiffs be compensated only for the actual cost of their medical payments, not the value of those payments.
Opponents of the legislation argued that the legislation was essentially a reward for the insurance industry and would punish Missourians who responsibly purchased health insurance. Supporters of the legislation argued that his was tort reform designed to prevent trial attorneys from asking for more damages than were due.
“We will continue to make plaintiffs in our state 100 percent whole in regards to medical expenses,” said Rep. Joe Don McGaugh, R-Carrollton, the bill’s handler. “What we’re talking about is tort reform in the area of medical expenses.”
But several, including Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, and Rep. Mike Colona, D-St. Louis, argued that the legislation was going to harm citizens who responsibly bought health insurances.
“This bill allows the wrongdoer to get the benefit that exists only because the plaintiff was smart enough to actually get health insurance,” Barnes said. “This bill gore’s your constituents, they just don’t know it yet because they haven’t been t-boned by a drunk driver.”
Colona pointed out that this bill died in Civil and Criminal Proceedings Committee once, but was revived and passed a week later. He also said the bill amounted to helping the insurance industry.
“This is why the committee voted it down to begin with. This is insurance industry welfare,” he said. “I know [McGaugh] is doing what he thinks is right, but I’ve practiced this kind of law and I don’t want my constituents to in essence be punished because they have health insurance.”
While opponents said this bill would hurt plaintiffs who also had other expenses because they wouldn’t be fully compensated, the bill’s supporters argued that plaintiffs could still get damages for lost wages, future lost wages, future medical expenses, compensatory damage and punitive damages.
“This bill does not take away the ability of the plaintiff to go to the jury. It simply says what is the evidence of the amount paid for the actual expenses,” said Rep. Kevin Corlew, R-Kansas City. “This is narrowly limited to the past medical expenses. This is common sense.”
The legislation passed 95-57.