- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Senate on Wednesday gave initial approval to a bill changing how medical expenses are handled in court cases after Democrats ended an all-night filibuster that dragged out debate that began the day before.

The measure would require actual costs - not the value of medical treatment for plaintiffs - to be considered as evidence in civil lawsuits.

Republican supporters say they aim to ensure that only the out-of-pocket expenses of insurance companies and victims can be reviewed in a trial - and not what’s considered the cost of care, which could be higher.

“If you were the defendant, you would know exactly what the medical cost was,” said Republican Sen. Ed Emery, the bill sponsor from Lamar. “It’s a hard number.”

Democrats said the bill could mean victims in personal-injury lawsuits receive less money.

“At the end of the day, it’s going to end up, in my view, unfairly reducing the amount of compensation that’s paid to the plaintiff, the victim,” Democratic Sen. Jill Schupp, of Creve Coeur, said Tuesday while the measure was being debated.

Those concerns - and disputes between the two parties over what the legislation would do if enacted - spurred an hourslong stall tactic by Democrats to block a vote.

The stalemate ended around 6 a.m. Wednesday, after senators adopted several changes that Democrats proposed to the legislation. Among the changes was adding language to ensure that costs would include what both insurance companies and victims pay in medical expenses.

The measure needs another vote of approval before it can head to the House for review.

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Medical expenses bill is SB 847.

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Online:

Missouri Senate: https://senate.mo.gov

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