The 800-pound Gorilla last week was Medical Malpractice Reform. We have needed to address this issue for several years but continue to meet strong opposition from the trial lawyers. Some years ago, under pressure from trial lawyers, the Supreme Court found our Tort Laws to be unconstitutional. That decision removed all caps from claims of pain and suffering. The surrounding states cap the same judgments to $250,000 to $350,000 dollars so you can understand why our doctors have left Missouri. Their insurance costs caused them to raise their rates to an unacceptable level. This is compounded by an already existing shortage of doctors in Missouri. This measure is for non-economic damages only and does not limit costs for procedures. Debate lasted for nearly two hours and it passed by a vote of 101 to 50. This one will have some interesting Senate Debate!
The Speaker and his leadership team promised to deal with the really contentious issues early in Session so as to allow adequate time for Senate consideration and Conference Committees to do their work. I didn't believe it would be this easy to accomplish, but it appears as if all the really hot items are behind us. This has the added benefit of allowing plenty of time to work with special issues like Child Abuse. I have several bills ready for hearings and the Senate passed a couple already.
We attended the Open House for the new Mercy Hospital in Joplin on Saturday. It is a marvelous facility and will bring a much-needed second hospital facility back to the area. Saturday night was the Stella Volunteer Fire Department's annual Chili cook-off and auction. This well attended event helps raise money to offset costs of the department. Remember, all the volunteer firefighters work for no pay. Sometimes they are fighting a blaze all night and work their regular jobs the next day. They deserve a "thank you" and a pat on the back every time we see one!
I think I'll close this week with a little history lesson. With the upcoming State and federal elections, there is a lot of talk about how politics have gotten rough in recent years. I won't argue that politics is a dirty sport, but it's always been a dirty sport. In 1800, Thomas Jefferson's campaign called John Adams a "hideous hermaphroditic character which has neither the force nor the firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman". Adams' campaign responded by calling Jefferson a "mean spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father." It appears to me that politics are actually less nasty than they were in 1800. Of course they didn't have Face book, Twitter, and 24-hour news channels in 1800.
We should have a budget done by this week; I'll keep you posted. Until then, I am and remain in your service.