Coalition Says Voters Send Clear Message on Tort Reform

November 11, 2002

Last week’s Republican election victories – highlighted by key Senate races in New Hampshire, Missouri, Georgia, Minnesota, North Carolina and Texas, where trial lawyers spent almost $7 million to try to elect lawsuit-friendly lawmakers – show Americans are ready for meaningful medical liability reform, according to the Coalition for Affordable and Reliable Health Care (CARH).

“Americans rejected the trial attorneys and their money,” John Thomas, president of the Coalition, said. CARH is an organization of medical professionals seeking reform of medical liability laws.

“Americans see their doctors closing offices in their communities, unable to afford medical liability insurance. They see nursing homes going out of business and hospitals and trauma centers being forced to cut services. And they know something must be done,” Thomas added.

In September, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4600, legislation to reform medical liability laws by limiting non-economic damages and excessive attorney fees. In an effort to keep similar legislation from coming up in the Senate, the trial attorneys pumped millions of dollars into the campaign coffers of their allies, giving New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen $160,000 in her bid for the Senate and Missouri Senator Jean Carnahan $110,000 in her quest for re-election. Both were beaten by opponents who received no money from the trial attorneys.

“Voters simply rejected the trial attorneys and their candidates – not only in New Hampshire and Missouri, but across the board,” Thomas commented. “Voters sent their message loud and clear: It’s time for the litigation lottery to end.” Thomas’ organization initiated a successful multi-state education campaign that included aggressive grassroots, radio and print advertising.

“The Coalition for Affordable and Reliable Heath Care looks forward to working with all members of Congress to achieve medical liability reform for patients,” Thomas added. “We will begin immediately to call upon the Senate to follow the House’s example, taking up and passing legislation that the President can sign into law. The results of this election represent a big step forward.”

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