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Several anti-consumer bills introduced at the Arkansas Legislature

Yesterday was the bill-filing deadline for the Arkansas Legislature. Several anti-citizen bills were introduced. These bills are designed to increase profits for insurance companies and other major corporations at the public's expense. Please reach out to your legislators and oppose anti-consumer bills.

For example, under current Arkansas law, an injured person must be "made whole" by settlement or jury verdict before that person's health, worker's comp, or car insurance company has the right to recover any money from the at-fault party (or his or her insurance company). The reason for this law is this — as between the customer and the insurance company, the insurance company was paid to assume the risk of injury to its customer. This "made whole" doctrine is an issue of fundamental fairness because it helps Arkansans play on a more level field with insurance companies, who already get to hide behind their insureds and rarely get called to account for other bad faith tactics.

HB1907 would repeal this "made whole" doctrine, which would result in a windfall to insurance companies at the expense of Arkansas citizens. Several federal laws are already like this, and many Arkansans already receive nothing — zero — when injured because their federal insurance program gets paid first. The federal law is good for major corporations but bad for consumers, and HB1907 is a bad bill modeled on a bad federal law.

Please call your representatives and senators and tell them you oppose "tort reform" in any form or fashion. Conservative financial magazine Forbes recently declared that tort reform didn't reduce defensive medicine, but rather resulted in record profits for insurers. Forbes also noted tort reform had the unintended consequence of slowing down new patient safety initiatives to correct the 44,000-98,000 needless deaths that occur each year in hospitals. A list of legislators is on the Legislature's website here, and UALR has a district finder here if you need to identify your own legislators. 

Remind your legislators that the U.S. Constitution's 7th Amendment preserves the right of juries to make decisions about disputes between citizens exceeding $20. Under the Arkansas Constitution, this requires full compensation for any wrongs. Juries are the ultimate check on the power of government — they represent constitutionally-established local control of our own communities. Let's keep the power in the hands of the people, and out of the hands of the insurance companies.

Remember this: if legislators can take away your 7th Amendment right to a full and just award by a jury because an insurance company wants them to, they can take away your 1st and 2nd Amendment rights to free exercise of religion and to bear arms as well.