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Bush's Junk Claim About Junk Lawsuits

Juries, Bush wailed, are handing out such massive judgments to patients who sue that entire hospitals, groups of doctors, and other medical businesses are shutting down. Problem is, it just ain't so.
 
 
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It would be funny watching George W. running around the country on his little stick horse, pretending to be a "reformer" – if it was not so sad, so wrong.

His latest war whoop is that, by gollies, he wants to reform the so-called tort laws so HMOs, hospitals, doctors and drug companies can't be driven out of business by us patients who sue them when their practices harm us. Bush's handlers sent him to Collinsville, Ill., just outside of St. Louis, where he held a photo-op and labeled both St. Clair and Madison counties as "judicial hell holes." He noted that 720 malpractice and wrongful death suits have been filed there against area practitioners in the past seven years, with jury awards causing enormous economic damage to them and curtailing health care in the area.

The issue of tort law has long been the prerogative of state governments, but George says it now must be federalized because, he says that "junk lawsuits" are proliferating all over. Juries, he wailed, are handing out such massive judgments to patients who sue that entire hospitals, groups of doctors, and other medical businesses are shutting down.

Problem is, it just ain't so. The watchdog group, Public Citizen, found that of the 720 cases that George cited, only 14 resulted in jury verdicts. And only seven of those verdicts sided with the patients. Excuse me, but seven verdicts in seven years is hardly a federal crisis.

Moreover, Bush's proposed remedy is to cap pain-and-suffering damages at $250,000 per case. Yet, in the two counties cited by George as judicial hell holes, only one case – one! – resulted in a jury award that exceeded this cap. Again, this is hardly a runaway system requiring federal intervention.

To put some truth on Bush's lies about "junk" lawsuits – and to help defend your legal right to hold bad medical practitioners accountable for their damages – call Public Citizen: 202-588-7741.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of "Let's Stop Beating Around the Bush," from Viking Press. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.