LNL – Trial lawyers face tort reform ‘danger zone’ in health care overhaul, says lobbyist

President Barack Obama’s push for an overhaul of the nation’s health care system could be stymied by Senate lawmakers, particularly moderate Democrats, the lobbyist for trial lawyers said.

Linda Lipsen, American Association for Justice (AAJ) senior vice president of public affairs, told her organization’s members that among moderate Senate Democrats who could possibly pose a threat to the Obama health care push are Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Sens. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Tom Carper of Delaware.

Lipsen told trial lawyers in the AAJ’s Birth Trauma Litigation Group meeting this week that the lawmakers are “business Democrats that aren’t necessarily that great for us,” referring to plaintiffs’ lawyers.

House Democrats and Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee are seeking to create a government-run “public option” insurance plan as part of the health care overhaul. However, Baucus backs the idea of nonprofit, member-owned health care cooperatives.

Lipsen said the trial lawyers face a “danger zone” for tort reform-minded medical malpractice amendments when the health care proposal reaches the Senate Finance Committee, which has traditionally been unfriendly turf for the nation’s trial lawyers.

She said lawmakers on the committee will likely seek to limit medical malpractice limits rather than address consumer issues and the uninsured.

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