Howard Dean: Democrats Left Tort Reform Out of Health Care Bill Because They Feared 'Taking On' Trial Lawyers

By Nicholas Ballasy | August 26, 2009 | 5:15 PM EDT

( - Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, a medical doctor who served as governor of Vermont, said at a town hall meeting on Tuesday night that Democrats in Congress did not include tort reform in the health care bill because they were fearful of “taking on” the trial lawyers.

“This is the answer from a doctor and a politician,” said Dean. “Here is why tort reform is not in the bill. When you go to pass a really enormous bill like that the more stuff you put in, the more enemies you make, right? And the reason why tort reform is not in the bill is because the people who wrote it did not want to take on the trial lawyers in addition to everybody else they were taking on, and that is the plain and simple truth. Now, that’s the truth.”

Dean was speaking at a town hall meeting sponsored by Rep. Jim Moran (D.-Va.) at South Lakes High School in Reston, Va.  He was responding to a question by Roland Tulino, a local resident who attended the meeting. 
Attendees who wanted to ask questions were required to write their name, hometown and question on a file card and put it in one of three cardboard boxes indicating whether they were for, against or undecided about the health care bill under development in Congress.
After he pulled Tulino’s card from the box and asked him to come forward, Moran accused the man who presented himself of impersonating Tulino--when in fact the man was Tulino.
When Tulino showed Moran his idenfication, Moran let him go ahead with this question.
“There’s $200 million over 10 years in savings if we had tort reform and nobody loses but the lawyers,” said Tulino. “Why have we not even considered that tonight in the discussion sir? Tell the American people that.”
Moran turned the podium over to Dean to answer the question.
Later Moran lauded Dean for his “honest answer” and apologized to Tulino for suspecting he was not who he said he was.
“That’s a very honest answer,” said Moran of Dean’s response.  “Before we go any further where is Mr. Tulino. Okay, Mr. Tulino because I noticed you gesturing and yelling, I suspected you where not who you are, the fact is that you were so I want to apologize for doubting that you were, number one. That’s number one, number two, it’s a very a good question, it’s a very appropriate question and it got an honest answer.“