Medical Liability

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President Bush says skyrocketing insurance costs are forcing good doctors to stop practicing. Thursday the president outlined reforms to limit malpractice lawsuit awards.

As doctors across the country threaten to strike over high insurance rates, President Bush told a crowd of Pennsylvania doctors he wants to limit malpractice lawsuit awards. Bush said he wants to limit pain and suffering awards to $250,000, and to hold punitive damages to no more than twice a patient's actual financial loss.

"Congress needs to listen to the people, and not make any excuses as to why they can't get something done," said Bush.

Rockford surgeon Kendall Boone's malpractice insurance premiums will almost double next year.

"I've never had a lawsuit against me, Yet I'm having to pay 25 to 30 percent of my salary in case some one does have a lawsuit against me. That's hard to swallow," said Dr. Boone.

Dr. Boone say's the presidents proposal is just what the doctor ordered.

"I think that's pretty much the plan that's in effect in California, and if it works there. I don't see why it can't work everywhere," Boone said.

But some local attorneys say award caps will take away victim's rights.

"The purpose of litigation is to put injured people back in the position they would have been had the malpractice not occurred. Obviously with severe disfigurement or severe losses they are unable to be put back in that position according to President Bush's plan," said Cynthia Hedrick Koroll, Rockford attorney.

Hedrick Koroll says capping awards will discourage attorneys from taking on some cases.

A bill to create caps failed last year, but with the president's backing, legislation stands a better chance.