Bush seeks to limit malpractice damages; In N.C., president to propose restrictions on awards against doctors, insurers

Washington Post
Thursday, July 25, 2002

President Bush will propose severe new limits today on damages that can be awarded in malpractice lawsuits against doctors and insurance companies, his aides said. Bush will make the proposal during a trip to the home state of Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), a potential rival in 2004 who became wealthy as a lawyer in malpractice and personal injury cases.

As part of broad changes to laws affecting medical malpractice cases, Bush wants to limit the amount that can be awarded for noneconomic damages, such as compensation for pain and suffering, to $ 250,000. He would not impose limits on economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost income. Punitive damages, rarely awarded, would be limited to whichever is greater: $ 250,000, or twice the economic damages. States currently set their own tort limits. Bush, a former governor, typically argues for state prerogatives over federal dictates. He plans to say the new limits would make health care less expensive and more available, since some doctors are quitting their practices because they cannot afford malpractice insurance premiums.

Edwards said in a statement that Bush's proposal would help insurance companies. "I hope that President Bush will work with me to help families that need affordable prescription drugs and real patients' rights instead of helping insurance companies and drug companies that don't need his help," Edwards said.

Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice and Democracy, a liberal consumer group, said the bill would "demolish patients' ability to hold hospitals and physicians accountable."

For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

Join Our Fight!

The Center for Justice & Democracy is the only national consumer organization in the country exclusively dedicated to protecting our civil justice system. If you'd like more information, please contact us.

Connect with us