When President Bush was governor of Texas, one of his most significant accomplishments was reforming tort laws to curb frivolous, abusive lawsuits. For this reason, many U.S. trial lawyers opposed Bush's 2000 presidential campaign. Since then, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) actively has opposed Bush's agenda to reform tort law at the federal level.
The White House Council of Economic Advisors estimates the cost of the tort system, including all types of personal-injury claims, is $179 billion annually. Bush knows tort reform is essential to help the economy and lower insurance costs. But comprehensive reform to reduce tort laws' financial burden is difficult to get through Congress, so more specific bills are being considered.
As Bush requested, on March 13, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2003 (HR 5) by a 229-196 vote to establish federal limits for medical malpractice lawsuits. Such lawsuits cause doctors' liability insurance premiums and consumers' medical insurance premiums to increase significantly.