President Bush focused on a rash of what he calls "frivolous and junk" lawsuits on a visit last week to Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock, Ark.
Bush told a crowd of about 600 medical professionals that unnecessary malpractice lawsuits against doctors are a key factor driving up the overall price of healthcare.
"We live in a litigation culture, and doctors fear what they tell patients will be used against them in a court of law," Bush said. "The healthcare system looks like a giant lottery, and the trial lawyers always have the winning ticket," he added.
White House spokesman Taylor Gross said Bush chose Arkansas as the forum for his speech because the state Legislature, in regular session last year, enacted a limited medical liability cap. Bush is pursuing a federal reform law to replace a haphazard patchwork of state laws, Gross said. Bush said his bill has been "stuck in the Senate."
The Arkansas tort reform bill limits damages in medical malpractice and other civil lawsuits. The bill sets the cap on punitive damages at $250,000 or three times compensatory damages, not to exceed $1 million, whichever is greater. Bush called for a hard cap of $250,000 on noneconomic damages while allowing patients to recover costs if they have a legitimate complaint.
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