Candidate: President Bush
Images: A woman looking upset; a medical clinic; dark, flashing images of
X-rays set against ominous music.
Time: 30 seconds
Audio: For women's health, it's now an emergency. Our hospitals, closing
maternity wards. OB-GYNs, forced out. Three-month waits for mammograms. The
reason: frivolous lawsuits from out-of-control personal injury trial
And John Kerry and the liberals in Congress stand with those trial
lawyers. They've voted to block medical lawsuit reform 10 times. And that's
why our good doctors are leaving.
Analysis: It is no accident that this ad was released hours before the vice
presidential debate involving a multimillionaire former trial lawyer, John
The ad depicts a widely reported medical malpractice crisisalthough the
number of U.S. physicians has been growingbut in some cases overstates the
role of lawsuits. The "three-month waits for mammograms," occurring in
Florida and California, are caused not just by litigation but also by
growing demand among women older than 40 and a drop in doctors willing to
read them because of low Medicare reimbursement, says a federal advisory
Kerry and many Senate Democrats, who receive substantial donations from
trial lawyers, have repeatedly voted against Republican proposals to limit
malpractice awards. In 2002, Kerry opposed a GOP amendment that would have
limited punitive damages to twice the amount in compensatory damages and
cap attorneys' fees at 33 percent of the first $150,000 of an award.
Democrats say this would make it harder for patients to hold doctors and
hospitals accountable for mistakes.
The Kerry camp cites a Congressional Budget Office finding this year that
limiting noneconomic damages and banning all punitive damages would lower
health costs only by 0.4 to 0.5 percent.
Kerry, who blames women's health problems in part on the rising number of
uninsured under Bush, co-sponsored a bill to extend Medicare coverage for
mammograms to women in their mid-thirties. But his running mate has made
the ticket a target for such attacks.