Shows offers lame attempt at tort reform

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Rep. Ronnie Shows, D-Miss., seems to be playing a perpetual game of &uot;Catch Up&uot; to his campaign opponent, Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss.

While nobody expects a runaway win for either candidate, all the numbers &045;&045; polls, campaign cash and district makeup &045;&045; point to Pickering staying in Washington.

That’s why the state’s most inexperienced congressman is trying to build his own bandwagon on which to jump.

Email newsletter signup

Toss out conventional wisdom

Shows finds himself in the unusual predicament of being on the wrong end of what should be a given Democratic position on a major issue: Tort reform &045;&045; it’s bad.

But with Mississippi doctors screaming for tort reform, many local-level Democrats have called for quick action.

Now it seems Shows has studied tort reform and believes the nation needs it. So he has signed on as co-sponsor of a tort reform bill that has everything in it but tort reform.

In short, the one thing doctors say is needed, Shows leaves out.

Repositioning the monkey

Caps. In Shows’ bill, none exist.

In fact, nothing in Shows’ bill addresses the judiciary. Instead, every point of the Risk Retention Act takes aim at the insurance industry.

Shows completely ignores medical and insurance professionals in his district who say what needs to be put in place are caps on non-economic, or pain-and-suffering, damages.

Trial lawyers and others who do not seem to get what is going on, just scream caps will limit an individual’s access to the courts and thus to justice. But it’s not about limiting justice. It’s about limiting how much someone can get when they spill coffee on their lap and get mad because McDonald’s didn’t tell them it was hot coffee.

Insurance companies suffer

Here’s what Shows proposes and why it is just pure political dung:

-&uot;Any insurer who exits the Medical Malpractice Insurance market must do so according to an orderly withdrawal plan. Specifically, the insurer must arrange for other insurance for the policyholders through the end of the policy period.&uot;

Insurers in Mississippi are not leaving mid-term of a policy. Nor are they leaving the &uot;Medical Malpractice Insurance market.&uot; They are leaving Mississippi.

-&uot;…Institute a requirement that medical malpractice insurers offer coverage to anyone with zero medical malpractice claims within the last three years.&uot;

Government should not be able to tell independent businesses who their clients will be. This is just overinflating government.

Furthermore, the problem in Mississippi is not with the risk of individual doctors, but the risk of insuring any and all doctors in such a detrimental litigious environment.

– &uot;Requires prompt payment of claims, if bills are not paid within 30 days, it would be subject to new penalties.&uot;

Again, this is government sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong. Yes, insurance companies should pay claims within a reasonable time frame, but I doubt Congress is qualified to set that time line.

Furthermore, this is not the problem doctors are expressing.

If Shows would pay attention, he would see that doctors are not asking for insurance reform.

Doctors want tort reform.

And Shows won’t deliver that.

Sam R. Hall is managing editor of The Democrat. He can be reached at (601) 445-3552 or by e-mail to