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Bush Seeks Limit On Malpractice Jury Awards

The Associated Press
The New York Times
Limiting jury awards in medical malpractice lawsuits is President Bush's healthcare priority in his second term agenda, but there is strong disagreement over whether such caps would help contain rising costs. The president also has laid out plans to give individuals more control of their healthcare spending, by way of proposed tax breaks. He is expected to follow through on putting in place changes in Medicare that will increase the role of private insurers in the government-run health program for older and disabled people. The drive to cap malpractice verdicts - beyond actual economic damages such as the cost of long-term medical care or inability to work - was a staple of Bush's campaign appearances. It was the first health-related topic the president touched upon in his first post election news conference. "We must confront the frivolous lawsuits that are driving up the cost of healthcare and hurting doctors and patients," he said on Nov. 4. Karen Ignagni, chief executive of America's Health Insurance Plans, said such suits add up to $100 billion a year, when unnecessary tests doctors order to ward off being sued are added in. Other studies, however, have found little or no evidence of a link between costs and limits on liability.