Consumers, lawyers question tort reform report

(3/22/2004) - According to BestWire, a report advocating tort reform presented at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) conference in New York has been criticized by consumer and trial lawyers groups. According to BestWire, the report has sparked a wide-ranging debate that ultimately postponed the working group's adoption of the document.

A recommendation that states consider caps on noneconomic "pain-and-suffering" damages in medical-liability suits drew the most fire from consumer advocates and others, who suggested the NAIC was adopting wholesale the agenda of insurers and doctors, according to BestWire.

Birny Birnbaum, executive director of the Center for Economic Justice, said the report placed too little emphasis on loss control--preventing claims in the first place by making health care safer--and skirted other issues that might explain the skyrocketing medical-malpractice premiums many doctors are paying, according to BestWire.