CARH Welcomes HHS Study Noting Burden of Personal Injury Lawyers

March 5, 2003

The Coalition for Affordable and Reliable Health Care (CARH), a national organization fighting medical lawsuit abuse, praised a study released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that reportedly finds frivolous litigation continuing to drive up liability costs and has resulted in the loss of access to even basic health care services, particularly emergency and mother-infant services for millions of Americans.

“The truth is – and today’s HHS study is further proof – that most spectacular jury awards of non-economic damages in medical cases are simply a huge pay day for personal injury lawyers,” CARH chairman John Thomas commented. “We welcome this comprehensive look by HHS at a very tough crisis for our nation’s health care and economy. It confirms what those of us on the front lines know – that the personal injury lawyers and their abuse of the legal system are preventing access to care and taking billions of dollars out of our health care system, both tax dollars and those paid by employers and consumers for health benefits and services.”

The study, “Addressing the New Health Care Crisis,” reportedly finds that “the crisis has only worsened, in scope and intensity,” since HHS assessed the impact of frivolous lawsuits in July 2002. Although the situation is markedly better in states that have enacted lawsuit abuse reform, the crisis is affecting the entire nation’s health care system, the study said.

Thomas also hailed remarks delivered by President Bush to the American Medical Association, in which Bush said, “Even the most frivolous of lawsuits cost money. Premiums go up … Either way the patient pays.”

“CARH feels strongly that President Bush’s proposal, now before Congress, will go a long way toward solving this crisis,” Thomas said. “Capping non- economic damages at $250,000 and limiting attorneys’ fees are what’s needed to begin to allow doctors, hospitals and long-term care providers to offer quality care to patients, especially in hard-hit specialties like obstetrics and gynecology, neurosurgery and orthopedics.”

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