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Public Papers - 1991 - May

Message to the Congress Transmitting the Health Care Liability Reform and Quality of Care Improvement Act of 1991


To the Congress of the United States:

I am pleased to submit for your consideration and enactment the ``Health Care Liability Reform and Quality of Care Improvement Act of 1991.''

This legislative proposal would assist in stemming the rising costs of health care caused by medical professional liability. During recent years, the costs of defensive medical practice and of litigation related to health care disputes have skyrocketed. As a result, the access to quality care for significant portions of the population has been threatened.

The bill would encourage States to adopt within 3 years quality assurance measures, tort reforms, and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. A pool of funds would be available to States and hospitals in those States that implement these reforms. The quality assurance measures require effective actions to improve quality and reduce the incidence of negligence. The tort reforms would include: (1) a reasonable cap on noneconomic damages; (2) the elimination of joint and several liability for those damages; (3) prohibiting double recoveries by plaintiffs; and (4) permitting health care providers to pay damages for future costs periodically rather than in a lump sum. Most of these provisions would be made specifically applicable to actions arising under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

I urge the prompt and favorable consideration of this proposal, which would complement initiatives the Administration will undertake concerned with malpractice and quality of care.

George Bush

The White House,

May 15, 1991.

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
1000 George Bush Drive West, College Station, Texas 77845
Telephone: (979) 691-4000 | Facsimile: (979) 691-4050 | TTY: (979) 691-4091