To The Editor:

Ten years ago Missouri was mired in a medical lawsuit crisis that threatened access to health care in Washington and every corner of the state.

Lawsuit insurance premiums skyrocketed, medical practices closed, physicians were forced to abandon risky procedures such as surgery and delivering babies, and many others simply left Missouri.

In 2005, the state Legislature responded by enacting a bipartisan tort reform measure that slowed runaway litigation and stabilized the health care environment. A reasonable limit on non-economic damages was the linchpin of that measure, and the results were dramatic. The number of lawsuits filed in Missouri dropped substantially, the insurance market stabilized, premiums became affordable again, and a large number of physicians returned to Missouri, providing jobs and improving access to care. Unfortunately, a sharply divided Missouri Supreme Court recently voided the limit on noneconomic damages, touching off evidence-based forecasts of the very same conditions that crippled the health care system a decade ago. Fortunately, however, the state Legislature is working to fix the problem before it’s too late.

Senate Bill 105 and House Bill 112 would reinstate the vitally important noneconomic damages cap and restore balance to the state’s tort system.

A large coalition of concerned citizens, health care providers, business leaders, and others has formed in support of these measures.

Every other Missourian should do their share and encourage their senators and representatives to support this important effort.