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President George Bush has launched an effort to enact significant legal reform during his second term. Although acknowledging that some of the cost increases in the U.S. health-care system are necessary and worthwhile, Bush said that jury awards in medical liability cases have skyrocketed in recent years. “Many of the costs that we’re talking about don’t start in an examining room or an operating room,” he said in an address on Jan. 5, in Collinsville, Ill. “They start in a courtroom.” Plaintiffs and their attorneys understand that the medical liability system is tilted in their favor, he said.

The American Insurance Association praised the administration’s stance. “President Bush is shining a welcome public spotlight on the urgent need for specific civil justice reforms to address the growing problem of lawsuit abuse,” said Robert E. Vagley, AIA’s president. “The administration’s legal reform agenda, focused on class action, medical liability, and asbestos litigation reforms, targets areas of the judicial system that, too often, encourage frivolous lawsuits and excessive awards, placing a tremendous cost burden on our entire economy, businesses and consumers alike.”

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