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franklin county times

Thursday, June 13, 2002

By Staff
Labor weighs in on tort reform
To the editor:
After hearing and reading many tales lately on healthcare and tort reform in Mississippi, I thought I would throw in my two cents worth. Organized labor in this state is concerned about the effect the current situation is having on all workers in Mississippi. It impacts their paychecks and it impacts them by having to seek medical care from doctors and facilities within their HMO or PPO. Many times the worker is forced to use providers they do not know and do not want to use but must to avoid huge out of pocket expenses.
Perhaps the HMOs and PPOs are the real villains. Peace of mind is a major factor in the healing process. Can you have true peace of mind if you are forced to use providers you're not comfortable with?
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has launched a tort smear campaign on this state that in no way can be justified. They should rename themselves to the National Chamber of Misinformation. But then, misinformation is just a fact of life this day and time, especially from corporate America.
Thank God some Chambers in this state are now waking up and seeing the error of their way. One such Chamber is the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, which withdrew their affiliation with the national Chamber. I salute Terry Carter, president and CEO of that Chamber and his members for making this move.
If we let the Legislature enact caps on tort awards, what is this telling the good people of Mississippi serving on juries? Is it telling them they are too ignorant and lack the intelligence to make a sound and just verdict based on the facts of a case? All cases are different and the facts determine the amount of the award, not the state Legislature.
Mississippi trial lawyers' documents show in all civil cases settlements, only 4.4 percent are punitive awards. That leaves 95.6 percent for actual damages. According to the National Center for State Courts, 2000, Mississippi has one of the lowest rates of civil filings, less than all but three other states.
On May 20 of this year, I had the honor and privilege to chair a rare, if not historic, meeting on healthcare/tort reform in Mississippi. At the table were labor leaders from across the state, a Chamber of Commerce, a member of the medical community, trial lawyers and a member of the Legislature. Many aspects of reform were discussed and common ground, excluding tort, for all the groups represented was identified. All parties involved agreed to continue discussions on the common ground. Will a workable solution be agreed upon? At this time I do not know, but it is better to have tried and failed than to not try at all.
Ronnie Turner
President
Mississippi Association of Central Labor Councils, AFL-CIO
Amory
Shame on U.S. Senate
To the editor:
Shame on the U.S. Senate. Despite all their talk of energy independence and security, 62 senators rejected a proposal to boost vehicle fuel economy standards that would have saved 25 billion gallons of fuel per year, according to the National Academy of Sciences. This is more oil than the U.S. receives from Persian Gulf imports, offshore drilling in California, and potential deposits in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge combined.
Now they're preparing to vote on the Energy Policy Act of 2002, a bill that now resembles the "more coal dependence, more oil dependence, more climate change' policies desired by Vice-President Cheney and his committee the American Petroleum Institute, Enron and other industry representatives.
As we approach Earth Day, I hope our senators will exert leadership and help vote down this misguided Energy Policy Act. Let's replace it with one that's based on policies of efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy that will ensure our energy independence and security for generations to come.
Jason McClure
Meridian
via e-mail
Soldier says thanks
To the editor:
Your home page is very informative and professional. I just wanted to say how we all enjoy reading about home, out here (somewhere between Meridian and Afghanistan). My wife tells me that many homes still fly THE flag and display yellow ribbons. Thanks and keep up the good work. God bless Meridian and America!
C.W. Smith
Meridian
via e-mail

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