Topics in the News: Tort Reform

Jill Stein on Health Care : Jul 6, 2015
Tort reform becomes unneeded under Medicare-for-All

OnTheIssues: What about tort reform, i.e. limiting medical malpractice damage awards?

Stein: The answer is a Medicare-for-All system. Much of what motivates large settlements is the need to pay for a lifetime of chronic care. With healthcare as a human right, you no longer need to go to court to assure coverage.

OnTheIssues: How would you implement that, given that ObamaCare is here to stay?

Stein: New Zealand uses no fault malpractice insurance--there is no requirement to find intention or fault-- and no need to create a villain when dealing with just statistical risks--and they have much smaller settlements. That is something we might want to look into, but the definitive answer is Medicare-for-All. Court settlement is an important safeguard against abuse and incompetence--that right should not be curtailed--but no-fault and Medicare-for-All is the main answer. If there are to be any changes in the way the courts work, the focus should be on speeding up the process.

Click for Jill Stein on other issues.   Source: Phone interview on 2016 presidential race by

Rand Paul on Health Care : Jan 15, 2015
Supports tort reform & free-market principles

As a doctor, I have had firsthand experience with the vast problems facing health care in the United States. Like other areas of the economy in which the federal government wields its heavy hand, health care is over-regulated and in need of serious market reforms. Government interventions in health care have driven up the cost of coverage. I have long supported making all medical expenses tax deductible, allowing insurance to be bought across state lines, tort reform (state-level), and empowering all citizens to save for health expenses by removing the high-deductible insurance policy requirement to access to Health Savings Accounts.

More freedom to choose and innovate will make sure our health care system remains the best in the world. As your Senator, I am working to ensure that real free market principles are applied to the American health care system so that it is responsive to patients, families, and doctors rather than government bureaucracy.

Click for Rand Paul on other issues.   Source: 2015 official Senate website

Rahm Emanuel on Health Care : Apr 6, 2014
I was charged to produce ObamaCare; and it happened

Q: In one scene in your brother Zeke's new book, doctors bring up malpractice reform and you sort of say, 'Screw this.'

EMANUEL: I was chief of staff. I was charged with trying to produce a health care bill that hadn't been done in 100 years. And I will say, it happened.

Q: When the ObamaCare website wasn't working properly, did you want to be in Washington trying to fix it?

EMANUEL: You gotta be kidding. You get a freebie question for the ridiculousness of that question.

Q: I was asking about your competitive instinct. You say you like to fix things.

EMANUEL: That goes down as one of the more intriguing questions I have ever had. Did I wish I was in Washington to fix a website? Let me answer that. I have a single-word answer. No. Please do not edit out the sarcasm of that answer.

Q: Don't worry, it is staying.

EMANUEL: I don't want it to be missed on your readers.

Click for Rahm Emanuel on other issues.   Source: The New Republic 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls

Scott Walker on Health Care : Nov 18, 2013
Passed tort reform & cut taxes on HSAs

In my predecessor's last term, WI lost 134,000 jobs, and the state's unemployment rate had reached 9.2%. We needed to start creating jobs again. So we cut taxes on health savings accounts (HSAs), cut taxes on job creators in WI, relieved unnecessary regulation so we could enforce common sense--not excessive red tape--and passed tort reform to stop frivolous, job-killing litigation. Nearly every measure was passed with bipartisan support in both the assembly and senate. We were off to a great start.
Click for Scott Walker on other issues.   Source: Unintimidated, by Scott Walker, p. 41

Nikki Haley on Jobs : Jan 16, 2013
Fought unionization; new jobs in 45 of 46 counties

In two years, we have announced new jobs in forty-five of South Carolina's forty-six counties. We've announced more than 6,300 new jobs to rural areas of our state.

We've cut taxes on small business. We've passed tort reform that, for the first time ever, puts a cap on lawsuit damages.

We've fought against the unionization of South Carolina, cherishing the direct relationship between our companies--who know how to take care of those that take care of them--and their employees.

We've, through the Department of Social Services, moved more than 14,000 families from welfare to work. We've created an Agribusiness partnership to showcase the largest industry in our state.

Click for Nikki Haley on other issues.   Source: 2013 State of the State address to S. C. Legislature

Ben Carson on Crime : Jan 24, 2012
Excessive litigation would end with "loser pays" arrangement

We have an overabundance of lawyers and so we can expect to have excessive litigation. The English system does not have the same kind of problem with excessive litigation because they have a "loser pay" arrangement. In that system, if you bring a lawsuit against someone and you lose, you have to pay all court costs and fees associated with the lawsuit--on both sides. In our system, most medical malpractice lawsuits are engaged on a contingency basis, which means the plaintiff has no out-of-pocket expenses, even if the case is lost. It's basically like playing the lottery; you have very little to lose, and you might become a millionaire if you instigate a medical malpractice lawsuit. Whether we add a "loser pay" arrangement to our legal system or devise another solution, the plaintiffs should have some skin in the game. To be able to bring lawsuits against people with no risk to yourself is antithetical to a harmonious and fair society.
Click for Ben Carson on other issues.   Source: America the Beautiful, by Ben Carson, p.171-172

Nikki Haley on Government Reform : Jan 18, 2012
We capped lawsuit damages; next tort reform is loser-pays

Until 2011, South Carolina was the only state in the southeast that did not cap damages on lawsuits. Thanks to the people in this room, that is no longer the case. That was a huge first step. Remember that there is always more to be done on tort reform. Looking at the states we compete with--the Tennessees, the Alabamas, the Virginias--it would be na‹ve to think they will settle for playing second fiddle to South Carolina in the economic arms race. They will scrap for jobs every bit as hard as we will. And the greater the protection we give our people and businesses from frivolous lawsuits, the better positioned we will be to capitalize on other assets. The next step in tort reform is a loser-pays system, so that there is a real cost to suits that waste the time and money of our businesses and our courts, and that our companies understand that South Carolina won't stand for trial lawyers playing games with their bottom line.
Click for Nikki Haley on other issues.   Source: 2012 S.C. State of the State Address

Rick Perry on Health Care : Oct 11, 2011
States innovate on healthcare; feds are one-size-fits-all

Q: Compare your health care ideas and Gov. Romney's mandates?

PERRY: In the state of Texas, from the standpoint of what we've done to make access of health care better, we passed the most sweeping tort reform in the nation in 2003. We also passed Healthy Texas, which expands the private sector insurance, and we've driven down the cost of insurance by 30%. But the real issue for us is Medicaid and how to get the flexibility on Medicaid so that the innovators can occur in the states. I can promise you whether it's Governor Jindal or myself or Susana Martinez over in New Mexico, that's where you'll find the real innovation in health care. The way to deliver health care more efficiently, more effectively is to block grant those dollars back to the state and keep this federal government that has this one-size-fits-all mentality from driving the thought process that we've seen that's destroyed health care in this country today.

Click for Rick Perry on other issues.   Source: 2011 GOP debate at Dartmouth College, NH

Rick Perry on Corporations : Sep 22, 2011
Reduce business' tax burden & regulatory climate

Q: How would you help incent small businesses to hire new employees and to confidently grow our business in this troublesome economic environment?

PERRY: What we have done in the state of Texas over the course of the last decade is to lower that tax burden on the small businessmen and women, have a regulatory climate that is fair and predictable, and sweeping tort reform that we passed in 2003 that told personal injury trial lawyers, don't come to Texas, because you are not going to be suing our doctors frivolously.

That's the way you get the government off of the back of small businessmen and women. And that's the way you free up those small business entrepreneurs, where they know that they can risk their capital and have a chance to have a return on investment.

If it will work in the state of Texas, it will work in Washington, D.C. And that's exactly what I'm going bring to Washington when I go there in January of 2013.

Click for Rick Perry on other issues.   Source: 2011 GOP Google debate in Orlando FL

Rick Perry on Jobs : Sep 7, 2011
We created 1M jobs in TX while US lost 2.5M

Q: You have touted your state's low taxes, the lack of regulation, and tough tort reform as the recipe for job growth in Texas, but no other state has more working at or below the minimum wage. Is that the kind of answer Americans are looking for?

A: Actually, what Americans are looking for is someone who can get this country working again. And we put the model in place in the state of Texas. When you look at what we have done over the last decade, we created 1 million jobs in the state of Texas. At the same time, America lost 2.5 million.

Q: But the counterargument is the number of low-wage jobs and that unemployment is better in over half the states than it is right now in Texas.

A: Well, the first part of that comment is incorrect, becaus 95% of all the jobs that we've created have been above minimum wage. So I'm proud of what we've done in the state of Texas. And for the White House or anyone else to be criticizing creation of jobs now in America, I think is a little bit hypocritical.

Click for Rick Perry on other issues.   Source: 2011 GOP debate in Simi Valley CA at the Reagan Library

Rick Santorum on Health Care : Jun 6, 2011
2006: Targeted by trial lawyers for his malpractice reform

Several times during his career, Santorum supported strong reforms to rein in litigation abuse. In 1995, he voted YES to putting caps on punitive damages in product liability cases and to restrict frivolous class action lawsuits.

He has consistently pushed for medical malpractice reform in an effort to drive down the cost of medicine. In 2006, he sponsored a bill to cap non-economic damages related to obstetrical and gynecological services. For his efforts, the Trial Lawyers of America PAC ran misleading television ads against him during his 2006 re-election campaign.

Click for Rick Santorum on other issues.   Source: Club for Growth 2012 Presidential White Paper #4:Santorum

Newt Gingrich on Health Care : May 24, 2011
Tort Reform: Impose "loser pays" rules; cap punitive damages

Gingrich has been a clear and consistent advocate for lawsuit abuse reform for years. The "Common Sense Legal Reform Act" was part of the Contract with America in 1994, but was vetoed by Pres. Clinton. The bill would have reformed the tort system by penalizing frivolous and predatory lawsuits by imposing "loser pays" rules and capping punitive damages.

More recently, Gingrich has supported tort reform in the context of health care reform and cost-containment. In 2009, Gingrich said, "The plain and simple truth is that leaving the tort system 'as is' ignores more than $200 billion in potential savings annually in health care." Specifically, Gingrich cited statistics pertaining to the expensive and wasteful practice of "defensive medicine," in which doctors perform unnecessary tests solely to protect themselves from predatory lawsuits. In 2002, Gingrich called for a cap on "pain and suffering" awards in medical malpractice suits.

Click for Newt Gingrich on other issues.   Source: Club for Growth 2012 Presidential White Paper #1: Gingrich

Newt Gingrich on Health Care : Feb 11, 2011
Repeal ObamaCare; sign tort reform instead

    President Obama could be bipartisan. There are seven steps to the center for Obama.
  1. Sign the repeal of ObamaCare. 58% of the American people, in the most recent poll, favor repeal of ObamaCare.
  2. Sign Tort reform for doctors. He said the other night he would like to do it, let's let him do it.
  3. Sign the permanent repeal of the death tax.
  4. Sign a new Hyde Amendment, so no tax payer money funds abortion in the United States.
  5. Sign a new Conservative Budget Act, to control spending and move to a balanced budget.
  6. Sign a law to decisively control the border now.
  7. Sign a tenth amendment implementation act returning power from Washington to the states and to the people thereof. And that act should include--to prove how real it is-- block-granting Medicaid so that states can control the cost and improve the quality without interference from Washington bureaucrats.
Now, I hope you'd agree with me that a President Obama that did those seven things would have come to the center.
Click for Newt Gingrich on other issues.   Source: Speech at 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference

Nikki Haley on Health Care : Nov 2, 2010
Cap punitive damages to limit medical costs

Frivolous lawsuits and out-of-control punitive damages drive up the cost of doing business and drive down the quality of healthcare in South Carolina. Our legal system must be reformed to include mandatory, non-binding arbitration and a "loser pays" component to all medical malpractice suits. Most importantly, we must institute a cap on the amount of non-medical damages that can be awarded in a lawsuit. Again, Texas has made strides following tort reform efforts, with studies showing 5.3% economic growth attributable to these reforms. As an added benefit, there has been greater access to care as doctors in high-risk specialties, like obstetrics-gynecology and neurosurgery, have relocated to Texas to take advantage of the improved legal environment.
Click for Nikki Haley on other issues.   Source: 2010 Gubernatorial campaign website, "Issues"

Mike Pence on Health Care : Mar 21, 2010
ObamaCare is a government takeover of health care

Q: On ObamaCare, what is left for Republicans to do?

PENCE: We are going to use every means at our disposal to oppose this government takeover of health care. I think the American people see a headlong rush to confront the very real challenges that we have in health care with more government instead of more freedom. Republicans have been offering solutions from the beginning. Let people purchase health insurance across state lines, pass malpractice reform, cover preexisting conditions. All of that can be done without a massive, trillion-dollar expansion of the federal government and burdening future generations with more deficits and more debt.

Q: But the reality is that you don't have the votes to stop it politically.

PENCE: A minority in Congress plus the American people equals a majority. The American people don't want this government takeover of health care. And I don't know if they have the votes today, but I guarantee you, the American people know they have the votes in America.

Click for Mike Pence on other issues.   Source: CNN 2010 "State of the Union" interview with Candy Crowley

Mitt Romney on Homeland Security : Feb 20, 2010
No Miranda rights for suicide bombers

Before we move away from this "No" epithet that the Democrats are fond of trying to apply to us, let's ask the Obama folks why they say no: no to a balanced budget, no to reforming entitlements, no to malpractice reform, no to missile defense in eastern Europe, no to prosecuting Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a military tribunal.

Conservatism has had from its inception vigorously positive, intellectually rigorous agenda and thinking. That agenda should have, mind you, three pillars: strength in the economy, strength in our security and strength in our families.

We will strengthen our security by building missile defense, restoring our military might and standing by and strengthening our intelligence officers. Conservatives believe in providing constitutional rights to our citizens, not to enemy combatants like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Not on our watch. A conversation with a would-be suicide bomber will not begin with the words, "You have the right to remain silent."

Click for Mitt Romney on other issues.   Source: Speech to 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference

Barack Obama on Health Care : Jan 29, 2010
High-risk pool for uninsured, now in plan, was GOP idea

I know how bitter and contentious the issue of health insurance reform has become. And I will eagerly look at the ideas and better solutions on the health care front. From the start, I sought out and supported ideas from Republicans. I even talked about an issue that has been a holy grail for a lot of you, which was tort reform, and said that I'd be willing to work together as part of a comprehensive package to deal with it. I just didn't get a lot of nibbles.

Creating a high-risk pool for uninsured folks with preexisting conditions, that wasn't my idea, it was Senator McCain's. And I supported it, and it got incorporated into our approach. Allowing insurance companies to sell coverage across state lines to add choice and competition--that's a [GOP] idea that was incorporated into our package. And I support it, provided that we do it hand in hand with broader reforms. So when you say I ought to be willing to accept Republican ideas on health care, let's be clear: I have.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Obama Q&A at 2010 House Republican retreat in Baltimore

Barack Obama on Health Care : Jan 29, 2010
Tort reform only saves $5B per year; not enough to matter

Rep. PRICE: Our bill, HR3400, has more co-sponsors than any health care bill in the House--it is a bill that would provide health coverage for all Americans; would correct the significant insurance challenges of affordability and preexisting; would solve the lawsuit abuse issue, which isn't addressed significantly in the other proposals that went through the House; and does all of that without raising taxes by a penny.

Pres. OBAMA: I am willing to work with you tort reform, but the CBO says, at best, this could reduce health care costs relative to where they're growing by a couple of percent, or save $5 billion a year, and it will not bend the cost curve long term or reduce premiums significantly. If we're going to do multi-state insurance so that people can go across state lines, I've got to be able to go to an independent health care expert, who can tell me that this won't result in cherry-picking and the least healthy being worse off. I've read your legislation, and the good ideas we take.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Obama Q&A at 2010 House Republican retreat in Baltimore

Joe Biden on Corporations : Nov 11, 2007
OpEd: beholden to corporations because so many based in DE

Like all mainstream candidates, Biden is beholden to corporate interests who support his campaigns or dominate his state; in Biden’s case, he cast a noteworthy vote in favor of the controversial 2005 bankruptcy bill, which was a boon to credit card lenders, many of which are based in Delaware due to lax state regulations. Biden’s biggest single bloc of support is trial lawyers, who like his strong position against tort reform.
Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p.180

Joe Biden on Jobs : Mar 14, 2007
Bush tries to strip away 100 years of labor progress

Bush is waging a war on labor. There is a middle class in America for only one reason: organized labor. If not for organized labor, where would you find a job where you had some sense that you had a shot of leaving behind something better than you inherited?

This administration is lined up 10 deep to strip away 100 years of labor progress. They focus on tort reform, court reform, and labor reform--the only three things that stand between the giants & average people. It’s time to say “no more.”

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: 2007 IAFF Presidential Forum in Washington DC

Jeb Bush on Health Care : Feb 15, 2007
Compromised on limiting medical malpractice awards

Jeb stood in the Capitol rotunda, a pained smile on his face, explaining how he was glad that he and lawmakers were able to come to a reasonable compromise on his plan to limit pain and suffering jury awards to medical malpractice victims.

Jeb was saying this, but it was obvious that he wasn't enjoying it, probably because everyone knew it wasn't true. The "compromise" was hardly that--more like a near-total capitulation on Jeb's part. Behind him, state senators stood in the familiar semicircle of solidarity, but they were scarcely able to contain their glee.

Then, after hands were shaken and the senators had withdrawn to their private office, there were laughs and high fives all around. "This is probably the 1st time he's ever been spanked," crowed one. Said another: "I don't want to gloat. Well, yes I do."

Click for Jeb Bush on other issues.   Source: America's Next Bush, by S.V. Date, p.129

Mike Huckabee on Health Care : Nov 1, 2002
Guaranteed medical care not government’s responsibility

Click for Mike Huckabee on other issues.   Source: 2002 AR Gubernatorial National Political Awareness Test

Rick Perry on Education : May 28, 1999
Supports vouchers, but didn't push proposal through

On March 29 Perry forced a vote on an ill-fated school voucher proposal. It’s perhaps the issue with which Perry’s campaign was most closely associated, and the one he was expected to push for the hardest. Perry’s campaign was famously funded by a $1 million loan guaranteed by Jim Leininger, the conservative millionaire who champions school vouchers and tort reform.

Perry watchers have varying explanations for the fate of school vouchers this session -- and for Perry’s failure to fight harder or more publicly on their behalf: The first theory holds that he’s not really a true believer in vouchers. The second explanation is that he is a true believer in the voucher issue?among others?but that he’s laying low until assumption of the governorship allows him to reveal his true colors. Yet a third explanation is that Perry is simply learning the ropes and building relationships with legislators before making a serious run at an issue that has proved controversial among voters and politicos alike.

Click for Rick Perry on other issues.   Source: Jenny Staff, The Austin Chronicle, vol. 18. no. 39

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