President Bush last week continued to argue his case for reforming the tort system for medical malpractice lawsuits with a speech in what many tort reform advocates would consider the heart of enemy territory, Collinsville in Madison County, Illinois.
Speaking to the Illinois State Medical Society, President Bush said that while many factors in the rising costs of health care are necessary, such as for research and drug development, the system is also being bogged down by unnecessary expenses.
“Many of the costs that were talking about dont start in an examining room or an operating room. They start in a courtroom,” the president said. “Whats happening all across this country is that lawyers are filing baseless suits against hospitals and doctors. Thats just a plain fact. And theyre doing it for a simple reason. They know the medical liability system is tilted in their favor.”
As a result of this imbalance in the judicial system, the president added, health care providers are deciding to settle cases, even those without merit, and passing the costs on to their patients.
“When insurance premiums rise, doctors have no choice but to pass some of the costs on to their patients,” he said. “That means youre paying for junk lawsuits every time you go to see your doctor. Thats the effect of all the lawsuits. It affects your wallet. If youre a patient, it means youre paying a higher cost to go see your doctor.”
The president noted that his audience of doctors in Madison and neighboring St. Clair County are especially aware of the problem. Both counties were listed among the top “judicial hellholes” in an annual survey by the American Tort Reform Association “as a national haven for asbestos claims” and malpractice suits.