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March 12, 2003

Chamber Urges Congress to Limit Health Care Lawsuits

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 13 – The United States Chamber of Commerce today urged House lawmakers to reform the current medical liability system to help control skyrocketing costs and ensure that health care services and affordable coverage remain available.

“The cost of this crisis is not measured in dollars,” said Thomas Donohue, Chamber President and CEO. “As physicians exit their profession due to the scarcity and high cost of malpractice coverage, fewer patients will realize the benefits of life-saving and life-enhancing innovation. It’s time for Congress to act.”

The HEALTH Act (H.R. 5) takes significant steps to preserve patients access to medical providers and curb skyrocketing health care costs by deterring the unnecessary ordering of diagnostic tests and medical services. A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that seven percent of rising health care costs is due to litigation.

The cost of lawsuits is crippling the health care delivery system in communities across the country, according to the Chamber. Unless lawmakers pass medical liability reforms, local communities will lose access to nearby, high quality medical facilities, and will be unable to attract businesses to locate in their area. Similarly, companies in affected areas will have difficulty recruiting managers and staff who are starting their families or who require special medical services.

“Reforming the medical tort system is a top priority for employers, who voluntarily provide health care coverage to more than 136 million workers,” said Donohue. “Medical malpractice run amok makes it much harder for business owners who are trying to ensure the availability of health care services and coverage for their workers.”

The Chamber has written to lawmakers, designating votes related to the HEALTH Act as “Key Votes,” which may be used in the Chamber s annual “How They Voted” rankings.

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