May 8, 1995
If words could sue, "common sense" and "reform" would probably have grounds for a libel suit against the Common Sense Legal Reform Act that has passed the U.S. House. It is an offense to common sense, this bid to tilt the civil law playing field so far that millions of ordinary Americans would fall right off it. It is a "reform" only if you consider tearing down the house to fix a leaky faucet to be reform. No doubt, runaway juries sometimes return outrageous civil awards against corporations.
March 4, 2010 |
The health-care debate has been marred by the distortions, demagoguery, and outright lies that are typical of modern American political discourse. For example, lacking any substantive ideas of their own, reform opponents have seized on tort reform - taking away the rights of injured patients - as their solution to America's health-care problems, despite ample evidence that it's no solution at all. Let's call this tort-reform fixation what it is: a sign that many Republicans are bereft of ideas and obsessed with an issue that will do nothing to lower care costs or cover the uninsured.
September 18, 2004
With a personal-injury lawyer as Democrat John Kerry's running mate, it figures that Republican congressional leaders would suggest spending some of their precious remaining days this session on lawyer-bashing. So this week and in coming days, both House and Senate are rehashing tort-reform issues that are neither new, nor wise. These measures merely share a common virtue in being able to define the two political parties' divergent outlook on citizens' access to the courts.
July 17, 1998 |
Tort reform sounds like a novel way to prepare fancy European pastries. But it's a serious issue that affects all of us. Last week, Senate Democrats blocked passage of a federal product-liability bill negotiated by the White House, Sen. John D. Rockefeller 4th (D., W. Va.), and Sen. Slade Gorton (R., Wash.). The bill would have set national standards for lawsuits against companies that make harmful products and would have preempted product liability standards in all 50 states. While advocates package tort reform to sound like a progressive philosophy that benefits everyone, its effect is to limit consumer lawsuits, making manufacturers less responsive to complaints about defective goods and taking an effective remedy from individuals injured by those goods.
February 12, 2003
IT TOOK a commie-hating Republican like Richard Nixon to open China. It may take a liberal Democrat like Ed Rendell to bring tort reform to Pennsylvania. On Monday, during testimony before a congressional subcommittee, Gov. Rendell said he is "willing to consider" setting caps on how much victims of medical malpractice can get for their pain and suffering. Those words prompted cheers from doctors and jeers from trial lawyers, a group that has backed the Democrats and Rendell in big ways.
October 14, 2003
IN THE WAR over the high cost of medical-malpractice insurance, Pennsylvania physicians have taken to lecturing patients and leaving pro-tort reform tracts in their waiting rooms. This week, doctors are taking a more aggressive stance with a slick radio and billboard campaign. As Daily News staff writer Michael Hinkelman reports, the campaign is aimed at the state Senate, which has yet to approve any malpractice reform package. Talks among members of an ad hoc committee set up to recommend changes have bogged down over the issue of tort reform and caps on pain and suffering.
April 29, 2003
HERE'S SOME free medical advice to all the doctors who abandoned their patients yesterday to protest high malpractice insurance bills: take two aspirins and then call your state representative with a better message than "We hate lawyers. " First, many state reps are lawyers and would likely take some offense at their profession being castigated. Second, the treatment being pushed for sky-rocketing insurance costs - a $250,000 cap on the amount juries can award for pain and suffering - is a few gel caps short of a solution.
January 20, 2004
STATE SENATE hearings are scheduled for today in Harrisburg on the familiar arguments over how much someone should get in a lawsuit for pain and suffering. But there is a relatively new voice in this debate. It's not just the doctors who want to hold their liabilities down. Private businesses are now also on the bandwagon, demanding that caps be placed on what they should pay someone hurt by a product or at the workplace. Last year, the state House approved an amendment that would cap lawsuit awards for non-economic damages.
January 21, 2001
The doctors who provide this region with some of the nation's finest medical care say they are bleeding to death. It's a financial death - brought about by a dramatic increase in the size of medical malpractice insurance premiums. For many in the highest-risk specialities - neurosurgery, obstetrics, orthopedic surgery - insurance rates have nearly doubled and now are more than $100,000 a year, making them among the nation's highest. Put yourselves in the shoes of the neurosurgeon who not long ago paid $30,000 a year for insurance on the West Coast, but now pays $105,000 in Philadelphia - a rate he expects to rise to $150,000 next year.
March 25, 1996 |
Just a few days ago, I swore I had lit my last candle for President Clinton. The occasion was his dizguzting reappointment of Alan Greenspan as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. What have any of us ever done to Clinton that he should have sicked that malodorous residue of bovine digestion on us again? This is Greenspan, guardian of the monied interests; Greenspan, who considers unemployment a boon to the economy; Greenspan, so paranoid about inflation that he'd rather throw the whole economy into recession and millions of people out of work than risk - even slightly - letting the coupon-cutters lose one iota of their unearned profits to inflation.