A House committee has endorsed a bill to cap Missouri medical malpractice awards at $350,000 for noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering.

As reported last month, Missouri is attempting to bring back caps on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases, with new bills recently introduced in the House (HB1173) and Senate (SB583).

The state had such caps from 2005 until 2012, when the state Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional.

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If signed into law, the cap will not affect economic damages, such as medical bills or lost wages. The bill now goes to the House rules committee. A Senate committee had a hearing on the proposal but has not yet voted on the measure.

“[U]nless we act, we’re encouraging health-care costs to increase [and] health-care quality to decline,” said Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones.

He added that without caps, “many of our best doctors, nurses, and health-care providers of all shapes and varieties inevitably flee our state and simply walk across the border to Oklahoma, to Arkansas, to Kansas, to all of the other states that surround us that have reasonable caps in place that protect both doctors and patients.”