Curb malpractice suits to fix 'badly broken' system, Bush says

Los Angeles Times
Friday, July 26, 2002

President Bush said Thursday that stringent new limits on medical malpractice lawsuits would yield tens of billions of dollars in savings that could lower insurance premiums across the board, help senior citizens buy prescription drugs and extend health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans.

Calling on Congress to enact limits already in place in California, Bush cited a "badly broken malpractice system" as a major reason for increasing health-care costs.

"It's a national problem that requires a national solution," Bush said here.

But consumer activist groups, trial lawyers and their Democratic allies in Congress took strong exception to Bush's claims, with some accusing him of stressing the malpractice litigation issue as a ploy to divert attention from his lack of success in producing more far-reaching health-care reforms.


Democrats and consumer groups questioned Bush's claim that such huge savings could accrue from cracking down on malpractice suits. According to a study by the Consumer Federation of America, medical malpractice premiums represent only 0.55% of total health-care costs.

"It's completely bogus," said Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice and Democracy, a national consumer group based in New York. "This is a very cruel and misdirected proposal that will only make rich insurance companies richer than they already are."

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