Bush presses congress to pass medical liability bill

Wednesday, January 5, 2005

President George W. Bush began the battle for his second-term domestic agenda in a place he described as a hotbed of frivolous lawsuits that he said raise the cost of medical care for Americans.

Critics of Bush's plan say there's no evidence of a surge in class-action verdicts against doctors.
In 2002, the last year for which complete figures are available, malpractice costs amounted to $24 billion, or less than 2 percent of total health care spending, according to a January 2004, study by the Congressional Budget Office.
“Even a reduction of 25 percent to 30 percent in malpractice costs would lower health care costs by only 0.4 percent to 0.5 percent, and the likely effect on health insurance premiums would be comparably small,'' the study said.
In 19 states that enacted punitive damage limits in malpractice cases, "most insurers continued to increase premiums at a rapid pace, regardless of caps,'' said a 2003 report by Weiss Ratings Inc., a Palm Beach Gardens, Florida-based company that rates the financial health of financial institutions and corporations.
The report cited as evidence a 48 percent rise in insurance premiums in states with damage limits and a 36 percent increase in premiums in states with no caps.
“The only meaningful way to hold down premium increases is to enact stricter regulation of the insurance industry,'' said Joanne Doroshow, executive director for the Center for Justice and Democracy, a New York-based consumer advocacy group. “States that are doing that are seeing results.''
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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