Gov. Nixon did not provide responses to the questions submitted by St. Louis Metropolitan Medicine as of press time, despite repeated contacts with his campaign staff from Aug. 22 through Sept. 21. If his responses are received after press time, they will be posted on www.slmms.org.
The Missouri Supreme Court recently struck down 2005 legislation that had set a $350,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical liability lawsuits. It is expected that this will cause medical malpractice insurance costs to increase sharply and could cause physicians to leave the state, retire early, or stop performing higher-risk procedures. How do you propose to restore a liability system that controls unpredictable non-economic damage awards?
Spence: Health-care professionals are under assault in Missouri and America and this decision is going to make it that much harder on Missouri doctors and nurses. This decision will result in doctors leaving our state as they had been before the 2005 law was passed. It will also cause dramatic increases in malpractice insurance rates and make doctor recruitment a nightmare. In my administration I will work with the General Assembly to reinstitute caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases and make any necessary statutory or constitutional changes to ensure that the reforms remain in place. I will also push for other litigation reforms that will protect health-care providers including loser pays lawsuits to curb frivolous lawsuits and other strong tort reforms. Personal injury attorneys have given over $4 million to our current governor and it's time to end the trial bars' stranglehold on the governor's office. Health-care professionals are engaged in an honorable trade and its time we stopped stacking the deck against them.
The Legislature has taken positions against the federal health-care reform act, including opting out of forming an insurance exchange, opting out of Medicaid expansion, and going on record as opposing the requirement for individuals to purchase health insurance. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the health reform law, how do believe Missouri should respond to its implementation?
Spence: I believe that implementing Obamacare in Missouri would burden small business, bankrupt the state and federal governments, disrupt the patient/doctor relationship and constitute unprecedented federal intrusion into the lives of Missourians. I am hopeful that Obamacare will be repealed in its entirety and I am committed to pushing back on its implemen- tation in every conceivable way. We need market based solutions to ensure access to affordable care for all Missourians, not more government programs and involvement. If the federal government would allow states the flexibility to manage their safety net programs we could realize tremendous savings and doctors could focus on meeting the healthcare needs of our most vulnerable citizens in innovative and cost-saving ways.