Bush attack on malpractice awards meets opposition

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President Bush fired his opening shots this week against large medical malpractice awards, but some leaders are voicing opposition to his proposed reforms.

In a speech in Madison County, IL, Wednesday Bush called for "sweeping changes in the nation's civil justice system" and asked Congress to "take immediate action" to limit malpractice lawsuits. He said the suits have led to increased malpractice insurance costs and reduced access to care for patients. Madison County is the site of many malpractice lawsuits.

Among his proposed reforms, Bush favors a cap on non-economic damages in suits, to the tune of possibly $250,000, along with restrictions on the scope of class-action lawsuits and limits on suits against manufacturers and marketers of products that contain asbestos.

Opponents to his reforms, including Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), assert that Bush is trying to protect drug companies, insurance providers and providers who should be held accountable if they commit negligence.