Victim of Medical Liability Crisis Calls on Sen. Lincoln to Support Reform Legislation

April 18, 2003

Leanne Dyess, a victim of the country’s severe access to health care crisis, joined Arkansas seniors, physicians, and business leaders at a press conference this week to ask U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) to vote for meaningful medical liability reform legislation this year.

Neurosurgeons were reportedly unavailable to treat Mrs. Dyess’ husband, Tony, after a serious automobile accident last year because they had been forced out of practice on the Mississippi Gulf Coast by rising medical liability costs resulting from reported frivolous litigation by personal injury lawyers.

“Like most Americans, I had heard about some of these frivolous suits and, of course, the jury awards that climbed into the hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Leanne. “But I never asked, ‘At what cost?’ Well, as I watched Tony’s hospital call all over the state – and other states – looking for a specialist to take care of him, and as I watched the critical hours tick by, I finally understood the cost. And believe me, it’s a terrible cost to pay.”

Senator Lincoln is seen as pivotal to the medical liability reform effort because she represents a state that the American Medical Association says is among the hardest hit by the escalating crisis. Her support of a reform bill like the HEALTH Act of 2003, which passed the House of Representatives earlier this year, would reportedly deflate the efforts of Senate Democrats threatening to filibuster any attempt to rein in personal injury lawyers.

Standing alongside Mrs. Dyess at the event was 80-year-old Flora “Grandma” Green, spokesperson for The Seniors Coalition (TSC), a free-market seniors group with more than 4 million members. TSC has launched a vigorous national campaign to call attention to the medical liability crisis and argue for reform.

“Senator Lincoln has a clear choice when it comes to reforming our country’s medical liability laws-she can stand with seniors, or she can stand with greedy personal injury lawyers,” said “Grandma” Green. “On behalf of our tens of thousands of members in Arkansas, I’m asking her to choose seniors. We just can’t get the health care we need if our providers are no longer able to practice or have moved to other states,” she added.

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