What if the big costs still hit the small?

Tampa Tribune
Tuesday, February 13, 2001

Over the years, legislatures across the country have adopted tort reform to help doctors, hospitals and others struggling with rising liability rates.

Last year, a group called Citizens for Corporate Accountability and Individual Rights [now called the Center for Justice & Democracy], based in New York, examined the effect of these laws. It concluded that tort reform "has had terrible consequences for many innocent people, while doing nothing to improve the affordability or availability of liability insurance for businesses or professions.

An actuary, J. Robert Hunter, helped research and write the report. He's insurance director for the Consumer Federation of America and the former insurance commissioner in Texas.

The American Tort Reform Association responded. It said the purpose of reform was never to reduce insurance rates.

For a glimpse of tort reform for nursing homes in particular, look at Texas. Years ago, its lawmakers capped damages and fees in nursing home lawsuits, yet rates remain high.

"It is difficult for us to imagine why Florida would want to repeat this failed strategy," wrote Bentley Lipscomb, Florida AARP director, in a letter to a special task force on long-term care last year.

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

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