March 3, 2003
HEALTHCARE LAWSUITS MAKE US SICK
Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse to raise awareness of healthcare emergency
"Lawsuit abuse is making Texas sick - literally."
That's the diagnosis from Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) and healthcare professionals who are joining together to fight junk lawsuits and abusive legal tactics that are undermining patient care, curtailing access to healthcare products and limiting services.
CALA chapters in the Valley, Corpus Christi, Houston, Austin and East Texas kicked off their new campaign with a five-day media blitz aimed at drawing attention to the healthcare emergency created by lawsuit abuse.
The groups are airing radio commercials in some areas, distributing thousands of brochures on the problem and holding a series of news conferences is cities such as Austin, Edinburg and Corpus Christi. Their backdrop: an 8 feet by 15 feet billboard truck with the message, "Sick Of Lawsuits? http://www.sickoflawsuits.org/," a reference to a new web site unveiled by the CALAs to make the public better aware of the issue and how they can be part of the solution.
"Junk lawsuits, questionable class actions and court shopping are a few of the abusive practices that are undermining our healthcare," said Bill Summers, president of the Valley CALA. "Lawsuit abuse is affecting how our healthcare is delivered in Texas and across the country. Patients bear the brunt of this lawsuit crisis in the form of increased costs and decreased access to healthcare products and services."
Summers praised Governor Rick Perry, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, Speaker Tom Craddick and other elected officials across the state for taking the lead on addressing medical liability and other lawsuit abuse problems plaguing the state. He encouraged legislators to support not only medical liability measures, but all civil justice reforms being considered this session.
"Texas' healthcare system has many ailments - healing the crisis requires comprehensive lawsuit reform," Summers said.
Dr. Christine Canterbury, a Corpus Christi physician and chairwoman of the Bay Area CALA, said, "Meritless lawsuits drive doctors to limit, relocate or close their practices. Lawsuits keep beneficial drugs from the market and increase the cost of health insurance and medical services for consumers. Lawsuits force patients to travel farther for specialty procedures, and they pressure doctors into practicing defensive medicine by prescribing unnecessary, costly tests and medications."
"The cure for this epidemic of lawsuit abuse is a civil justice system that doesn't pay off personal injury lawyers at the expense of patients," said Kirsten Voinis, spokesperson for CALA of Central Texas, based in Austin.
Added Dr. Canterbury, "Instead of improving healthcare, lawsuit abuse is literally making us sick by limiting our access to affordable quality care."
Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse is a nonprofit, grassroots coalition dedicated to making the public better aware of the cost and consequences of lawsuit abuse. With six chapters across the state, CALA counts count more than 25,000 supporters among its ranks. For more information, please visit www.sickoflawsuits.org.
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