S.11, the "Patients First Act of 2003"
July 8, 2003
To Members of the United States Senate:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation representing more than three million businesses of every size, sector and region, urges you to vote for S. 11, the "Patients First Act of 2003." The Senate must act now to preserve access to essential health care services in communities across the nation.
America's medical liability system is broken. In states that lack reasonable liability reforms, multi-million dollar jury awards and settlements in medical liability cases are forcing providers to abandon high-risk elements of their practices, retire early, or relocate to other states. As a result, available hospital services are reduced and patients suffer as they find it increasingly difficult to access care in their communities.
The costs of excessive litigation and defensive medicine are driving up expenditures by employers and working families for health insurance, which is hurting access to affordable health coverage. Moreover, without access to nearby medical facilities and health care providers, communities will be unable to attract to their areas new businesses and retain current residents who need access to specialized medical services.
A national solution is imperative as in at least 21 states courts have nullified liability reforms. Meaningful reforms in S. 11, such as reasonable limits on non-economic damages and contingent fees in medical liability cases, will bring a degree of predictability and fairness to the civil justice system that is critical to solving the growing medical access and affordability crisis.
S. 11 ensures patients are wholly compensated for their injuries, while curbing excessive and unnecessary liability costs that are adversely impacting our health care system and communities. This important measure is worthy of full debate by the United States Senate, and its consideration should not be blocked through procedural maneuvers.
It is time to ensure that Americans can obtain the health care they need and that doctors, nurses, hospitals and clinics be able to continue serving their communities across the country. For these reasons, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will include votes related to S. 11 for inclusion in our annual "How They Voted" rankings.
R. Bruce Josten
Executive Vice President
U.S. Chamber of Commerce