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from Daily Mislead
July 6, 2004

President Bush and Vice President Cheney continue to dishonestly claim that trial lawyers are to blame for skyrocketing health care costs. President Bush said Friday that "frivolous lawsuits...run up the cost of medicine" and that solutions to health care problems were stopped in Congress "because the trial lawyers are powerful in the Senate."[1] Similarly, Cheney said last week that "medical liability reform" is the key to "control the cost of health care."[2] But, according to undisputed government and academic data, lawsuits have little -- if anything -- to do with health care costs.

According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), costs from malpractice lawsuits represent less than 2%[3] of the nation's total health care spending, and the tort reform legislation pushed by President Bush would reduce health insurance premiums by less than one-half of one percent.[4] While President Bush has claimed that lawsuits cause "docs to practice medicine in an expensive way[5] in order to protect themselves in the courthouse," a study by the Harvard University School of Public Health "did not find a strong relationship between the threat of litigation and medical costs." Additionally, a study in the Journal of Health Economics[6] compared medical costs in states with limits on lawsuits to states without limits and found only tiny savings - less than three-tenths of one percent. In all, CBO reported "no statistically significant difference in per capita health care spending between states with and without limits on malpractice torts."[7]

The White House's insistence on pushing the trial lawyer myths are designed to obscure its record in other areas that would seriously reduce health care costs. For instance, the Bush Administration's recently-passed Medicare bill specifically prohibited Medicare from negotiating lower prescription drug prices from large pharmaceutical companies.[8] Similarly, industry studies have found that widespread adoption of the President's Health Care Savings Accounts "could drive up the annual deductible paid by workers."[9]


1. Remarks by President Bush on the Economy, PRNewswire.com, 7/02/04, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208987&l=43773.
2. "Cheney rallies the faithful at Wheeling bus tour stop," Observer-Reporter, 7/04/2004, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208987&l=43774.
3. "Economic and Budget Issue Brief: Limiting Tort Liability for Medical Malpractice," Congressional Budget Office, 1/08/04, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208987&l=43775.
4. "President Bush's Rhetoric on Medical Malpractice Doesn't Match Reality," DPC.Senate.gov, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208987&l=43776.
5. Presidential Remarks, WhiteHouse.gov, 1/26/04, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208987&l=43777.
6. "President Uses Dubious Statistics on Costs of Malpractice Lawsuits," FactCheck.org, 1/29/04, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208987&l=43778.
7. Ibid, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208987&l=43778.
8. "Bush Admits Drug Card Concerns," Washington Post, 6/15/04, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208987&l=43779.
9. "Out of pocket costs may soar," USA Today, 4/25/2004, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208987&l=43780.

Posted: July 11, 2004


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