President Bush lauded for support of medical liability reform

2 February 2005

WASHINGTON. The Coalition for Affordable and Reliable Healthcare (CARH) applauded President George W. Bush's continued call for meaningful medical liability reform in his State of the Union Address tonight and called upon the President to aggressively use his office to push the few intransigent members of the United States Senate who defy the will of the majority by threatening to filibuster necessary legal reforms.

"President Bush is firm in his position, and we are firm in ours," said John Thomas, Chairman of CARH and Vice President and General Counsel of Baylor Health Care. "He was absolutely right in suggesting that one way to make health care more affordable and more accessible is to pass medical liability reform. And toward this end, CARH pledges its continued resources and support."

The U.S. House of Representatives passed reform legislation last year, but failure to gain cloture on repeated attempts in the Senate blocked its passage, providing the personal injury lawyers lobby a major victory in the 108th Congress.

"The President made it clear that he and the new Congress have a clear directive from Americans: put an end to runaway jury awards and frivolous lawsuits which force hospitals, doctors, and nursing homes to abandon their practices and patients," said Thomas. "Voters want healthcare access. They want it affordable. And the reforms we support -- the reforms the President is calling for -- are estimated to reduce the cost to Medicare by as much as $50 billion per year and to private payers by more than $100 billion per year."

Medical malpractice awards have tripled since 1994, driving medical liability insurance premiums up over 500 percent and forcing hospitals and healthcare providers nationwide to close their doors. As a result, increasing numbers of American's are losing access to healthcare due to the shortage of physicians, especially in higher-risk specialties such as obstetrics.

"It's time for obstructionist senators to listen to their constituents and get behind the President by passing liability reforms like those that have proven successful in Texas, where in one year, hospitals report a 17 percent drop in liability costs," Thomas said. "These reforms will make fair and reasonable compensation available in the case of malpractice, without reducing the much needed access to health care services for our seniors, pregnant mothers, and trauma victims."

The full State of the Union address: www.whitehouse.gov/stateoftheunion/2005/index.html

The Coalition for Affordable and Reliable Health Care (CARH) is an organization of hospitals, long term care providers, businesses, health care professionals and concerned citizens dedicated to working with the Administration, Congress and the media to educate the public about the escalating medical liability insurance crisis and to see national legislation enacted that would result in comprehensive reform.

For more information on CARH please visit http://www.carh.net/


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