House Majority Leader Says He Expects Tort Reform to be Considered

By September 2, 2009Briefly Legal, Health Care

The Baltimore Sun leads its story about House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s town hall meeting in Waldorf last night with the tort reform angle, “Hoyer grilled on health care“:

WALDORF – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said Tuesday night that Congress is likely to consider caps on medical lawsuits as part of its health care overhaul deliberations, but stopped short of assuring his Southern Maryland constituents that he would push for changes in malpractice awards.

At a town hall meeting that in its often angry tone and hostile questioning echoed dozens around the country over the past month, the No. 2 Democrat in the House of Representatives was repeatedly pressed about tort reform.

“You kind of glossed over this before,” Dr. Michael Magee, an orthopedist from Edgewater, said after Hoyer told another questioner that he “certainly” expected the issue to be considered.

Hoyer, a leading recipient of campaign contributions from lawyers and law firms, said he is concerned about excessive jury awards in malpractice suits. But he also said that if noneconomic damages are capped, some victims of medical malpractice “may not get anything of substantial value through the years.”

“I intend to look at this very seriously and discuss it with my colleagues,” Hoyer said. “We do want to prevent specious suits. I think we can all agree on that.”

At this point, the Democratic leadership in Congress has to consider it — at the very least — medical liability limits to prove its independence from the litigation industry. Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean described issue starkly last week at Rep. Jim Moran’s Town Hall meeting in Reston: “The reason that tort reform is not in the bill is because the people who wrote it did not want to take on the trial lawyers in addition to everybody else they were taking on, and that is the plain and simple truth.”

The National Journal has a thorough report on the issue in “Health Care Push Revives Tort Reform Debate.”

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