This Week in Iowa Politics | Iowa lawmakers passed a $2 million cap on medical malpractice awards

It was a busy week in Iowa politics. Here are the highlights: More floor action from the 90th General Assembly, Grassley returns to the U.S. Capitol after hip surgery, and the U.S. House of Representatives voted to condemn China for the spy balloon.


Jack Gruber-USA TODAY

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, testifies during a hearing from the newly formed Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government on February 9, 2023 in Washington.

Liam Halawith, Politics Editor

Iowa lawmakers passed caps on medical malpractice awards in civil cases this week. The law caps compensation for non-economic damages at $2 million for hospitals and physicians at fault in medical malpractice cases.

The bill passed the Iowa House and Senate on Wednesday night and has been sent to Gov. Kim Reynolds to sign.

During floor action on the bill, Democrats proposed several amendments in both chambers to amend the bill to add stipulations for insurance carriers.

Republicans argued that because of the lack of caps on non-economic damages, medical malpractice insurance premiums were going up because of large verdicts. However, Democrats argued that if caps are allowed, they should stipulate that insurance rates can’t go up after its passage.

Democrats also proposed amendments to allow hospitals to recover money from Insurance companies that go into bad faith negotiations with plaintiffs.

The bill also drew sharp criticism from Republicans in both chambers who felt the bill wouldn’t solve the issue at hand.

Reynolds said the caps will strengthen the medical industry in Iowa, giving hospitals a better financial footing.

“I’m grateful to the legislature for passing reasonable medical malpractice reform, allowing Iowa’s health care industry to become stronger and more accessible,” Reynolds said in a news release. “These reforms balance the needs of injured patients with the needs of all Iowans to have a robust health care system.”

Iowa lawmakers passed a 3 percent increase in school funding

Iowa lawmakers passed a 3 percent increase in state aid to public schools Monday. The increase will amount to an almost $107 million increase in state spending on public school districts.

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the increase into law on Tuesday. The 3 percent increase is larger than the 2.5 percent recommended by the governor.

Multiple amendments to increase funding by 5.9 percent were proposed but failed in both chambers.

Grassley’s bill to lower prescription drug costs passes Senate committee  

A bill that would lower prescription drug costs by increasing competition in the pharmaceutical industry passed by voice vote in the Senate judiciary committee. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is a ranking member and sponsor of the bills.

The bill would also examine the monopolies and competition in the pharmaceutical industry by directing the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the matter.

“Iowans’ pocketbooks are already being squeezed by the highest inflation in 40 years. The last thing they should have to worry about is the steep price of life-saving medication,” Grassley said in a news release.

The U.S. House of Representatives votes to condemn the Chinese Communist Party for spy balloon 

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 419-0 with all other members absent or not voting, to condemn the Chinese Communist Party for its involvement in a spy balloon that was spotted flying over the Midwest and was shot down over the Atlantic Ocean on the coast of South Carolina.

Republicans condemned Biden for failing to respond swiftly to reports of the balloon when it was spotted in the sky in Montana on Jan. 28. The balloon traveled over several midwestern states and the southeast until it was finally shot down over the Atlantic Ocean on Feb. 4.

According to USA Today, the Chinese Spy Balloon was targeting U.S. communications signals to attempt to locate U.S. nuclear missile silos and other encrypted communication sites.

Rep. Ashley Hinson, a Republican representing northeast Iowa, voted for the resolution. Hinson is also a member of the House Select committee on the Chinese Communist Party that is investigating Chinese influence in the U.S. Hinson said this act was intentional and that it is on the tip of the iceberg in Chinese influence.

“There are 210 million Chinese spy balloons in the form of TikTok on Americans’ phones today. We must crack down on CCP surveillance tactics, whether in the sky or on our phones, to protect individual data and national security,” Hinson said in a news release.

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