Hopes high for malpractice solution: hospital group officials say time right for tort reform

Charleston Daily Mail
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

The West Virginian who leads the American Hospital Association task force on health care liability insurance says he is hopeful legislation could gain congressional approval this year.

National tort reform is only one part of a broader solution, said Steven Summers of the West Virginia Hospital Association. Summers was in Washington Tuesday, along with Jefferson Memorial Hospital chief executive John Sherwood, to brief reporters about what they say is a growing crisis in medical liability insurance.

"We haven't hit the bottom yet," Summers said. He and American Hospital Association president Dick Davidson said growing accessibility problems are catching congressional attention.


"The political climate, the time is right," Davidson said. "President Bush has said already he wants to sign a bill. There's a lot of support in the House. We're getting closer in the Senate."


Not everyone thinks that's a welcome change. Joanne Doroshow of the Center for Justice and Democracy said the legal system has "absolutely nothing" to do with the current skyrocketing liability insurance rates.

The current $30,000 malpractice insurance payout has remained constant for the last decade, with total payouts ranging from $2.5 billion to $4 billion, Doroshow told a recent House panel. "Americans spend twice as much on dog food each year."

The proposed legislation is a "cruel bill that would reduce the protections and rights of citizens in every state in this country," she said.

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

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