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Aug. 11, 2004

President Bush “Dis-Torts” the Truth About Impact of Lawsuits on Health Care and the Economy

Public Citizen Corrects Bush’s Misstatements on Tort Reform, Releases Briefing Book on the Facts about Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Bush is leaving this year’s campaign trail littered with distortions, exaggerations and patently false statements about the impact of consumer lawsuits on the nation’s economy and health care, the president of Public Citizen said today.

“At almost every campaign stop, the president is attacking the rights of consumers to hold companies and doctors accountable for their wrongdoing,” said Joan Claybrook. “But in speech after speech, the president has distorted the facts or has been just flat-out, factually wrong.”

To set the record straight, Public Citizen today released a fact sheet of eight glaring misstatements by the president about lawsuits by consumers and medical patients. For example, in July in Pennsylvania, Bush charged that lawsuits were driving doctors out of business, when local newspapers had reported just a few weeks earlier that the number of doctors in Pennsylvania had increased in spite of lawsuits.

“These types of misstatements about our legal system have become a glaring pattern in the Bush-Cheney propaganda machine, and no one should be fooled by these myths and distortions into supporting policies that will be most harmful to those patients who are the most seriously injured by medical errors,” Claybrook said.

Data show that doctors are not leaving states with high malpractice premiums; that unsuccessful lawsuits (Bush terms them “frivolous”) have little impact on health care costs (Bush has claimed that lawsuits increase health care costs); that tort lawsuit filings have decreased since 1992 (“everybody is getting sued,” Bush claims); and that the median jury award for personal injury cases fell 30 percent between 2000 and 2002 (rebutting the “giant lottery” that Bush claims defines the liability system).

Public Citizen also released a 99-page briefing book providing detailed facts and statistics on medical malpractice lawsuits and their impact on the American economy and the medical community. To view the book and fact sheet, click here.

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