Bush Pushes Health Reform for Hospitals Not Court Rooms

January 26, 2004 -- Posted at 6:08 pm CST

LITTLE ROCK—President Bush won the support of Arkansas in 2000, today he's asking them not to forget the lessons of September 11th, nor what he calls an improving economy.

"Congress needs to act. They need to make these tax relief packages that we passed for small businesses permanent," said Bush.

As democratic presidential hopefuls campaign in New Hampshire, the President was at Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock focusing on an issue that most Americans associate with Democrats: Healthcare.

The President is proposing medical liability reform.

"One of the reasons people are finding their premiums are up, and it's hard to find a doctor these days is because frivolous and junk lawsuits are threatening medicine across the country," said Bush.

According to the President, medical liability suits against doctors in the Natural State has risen by 150%. He says 90% of Arkansas doctors follow unnecessary procedures in order to avoid lawsuits. It's something he says ends up affecting all Americans.

"The direct cost of liability insurance and the indirect cost from unnecessary medical procedures raise the federal government healthcare costs by at least 28 billion dollars per year," said Bush.

In order to alleviate the burden on doctors and the rest of the country from these expenditures, the President is proposing legislation that will put a cap on damages. Now whether that will help him against Democrats in the fall is yet to be determined.

Senator Mark Pryor's office released a statement today in response to the President's visit. Pryor says it's unfortunate that Bush is sidestepping the more pressing problem of providing access to affordable, quality health care for the 44 million uninsured individuals in our country.