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A Crisis in the Courts of America

Location: Washington, DC

A CRISIS IN THE COURTS OF AMERICA -- (House of Representatives - October 06, 2005)


Mrs. BLACKBURN. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Texas for yielding, and I thank him for organizing this hour tonight and for the work he has put into this issue and how wonderful that our colleagues here in this body and that the American people can hear from the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Price) and the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Murphy) and the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Gingrey) and the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Carter) and hear how Members of this body, Members who have served as a part of our legal and judicial system, Members who are health care providers address this situation and realize the need to address medical liability here in this country.

I think it is worthy, too, that we hear from consumers in this debate, and being a health care consumer is something that is important to me and important to so many of my constituents in Tennessee.

The gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Price) had mentioned the Harris poll, and I think the results of this poll are so reflective of what we hear from our constituents. Seventy-eight percent of the individuals polled in the Harris poll talked about medical liability costs and expecting Congress to do something to address that issue, 78 percent. Seventy-three percent want us to make medical malpractice reform a top issue for the U.S. House of Representatives, and they do that because they see this as a freedom issue, a freedom for them to choose who they want to be their doctor, who they want to take care of them, to have access to the health care that they know is there and available, but because of a litigious society and a legal system that many times is out of control, is not available.

I will have to tell my colleagues I had a constituent in a town hall meeting recently stop the town hall meeting when we got to this, stand up and say, I have got something to say. He said I think when it comes to lawyers suing doctors that we ought to have a law. He said, a doctor cannot diagnose you; he cannot give you any medicine unless he has a face-to-face meeting with you and checks you out. I think the same thing ought to apply to these lawyers, that they thought to have a face-to-face meeting and get to know these patients before that lawyer can help that patient sue that doctor.

That is sometimes the frustration that we hear and good common sense that people bring forward. This is what we are hearing from the consumers of this Nation, from our citizens, from our constituents: Address this because it is a freedom issue. It is a freedom issue for physicians who want to practice the skill that they have been trained to do. It is a freedom of access issue for our constituents.

Our constituents know that because of the liability crisis in this great Nation that their hospital choices are limited; that their physician choices are limited; that they are having to drive further distances; that health care is not as available, especially in our rural and underserved areas. I tell my colleagues, if that hospital is 60 miles away, many times it might as well be 600 miles away because it is so difficult to get to.

So I really want to thank the leadership of this House. I want to thank the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Gingrey) and the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Carter) and the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Murphy) and the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Price) for bringing their expertise to bear in this body and bringing attention to the medical liability crisis and to the need to move forward, complete addressing H.R. 5 and taking a lead in the medical malpractice/medical liability issue.


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