Bush to campaign for limit on medical malpractice lawsuit awards

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President Bush will begin a new push this week to persuade Congress to approve limits on the size of medical damage awards won in court.

Bush and other Republicans argue that the surging cost of liability insurance is compelling physicians, specifically those in high-risk work, to leave their practices. They also assert that the cost of lawsuits prevents companies from hiring more people and launching ventures. Liability insurance has risen dramatically for most long-term care operators in recent years.

The president will speak Wednesday in southern Illinois' Madison County, where a large number of lawsuits have been filed in recent years, including 464 filings over asbestos and 71 class actions last year, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.

Bush will speak to limiting the amount of money (to perhaps $250,000) that victims of medical malpractice can win for "non-economic" damages, such as pain and suffering; limiting the scope of class-action suits in which lawyers assemble large groups of people to sue a company over a harmful product; and curbing lawsuits against makers and sellers of products that contain asbestos.