Treasurer says policy on UIHC malpractice settlements to save taxpayers millions

IOWA CITY — The State of Iowa has been covering medical malpractice settlements involving the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics that exceeded $9 million, but under a new agreement the Iowa City-based heath care system will pay more and taxpayers will pay less to settle these claims.

State Treasurer Roby Smith says the agreement “should save Iowa taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.”

Smith is a member of the State Appeal Board that approves legal settlements that involve state government agencies. In May and June, Smith voted against three University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics medical malpractice settlements that were above $9 million. State taxpayers covered $5.5 million in total on those three claims.

Smith says the $9 million cap on what the University of Iowa Hospitals was covering on each settlement was set “several years ago,” and the state treasurer says due to the inflation factor, “taxpayers have shouldered too much of the burden of these settlements.

According to a news release from the state treasurer’s office, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, the Board of Regents and the Attorney General’s office have signed an agreement that raises the university’s obligation in medical malpractice settlements to $15 million dollars, with an annual inflation adjustment. It also specifies that medical malpractice claims covered by this agreement are not just for physicians at the University of Iowa Hospitals, but other medical professionals at the institution.

Smith says he’s “very pleased” the attorney general, the Board of Regents and UIHC worked to address his concerns about how much taxpayers were obligated to cover in medical malpratice settlement and did so in an “expedited manner.”