Hayden Shamel, a 36-year-old Hot Springs teacher and chair of the Garland County Democratic Party who is running for the 4th District Congressional seat against incumbent Republican Rep. Bruce Westerman, issued a statement today expressing opposition to so-called “tort reform” measures in Congress and on the state ballot this November.
Arkansas voters will decide on Issue 1 — which would limit legal damages for pain and suffering in cases of personal injury or wrongful damage — this November. Westerman is a longtime backer of the big players that want to shield themselves from lawsuits seeking damages, from private nursing homes to insurance companies. He voted for the risibly named Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017, which would have gone even further than Issue 1, limiting noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases and other healthcare lawsuits to $250,000.
“We cannot have elected officials who will openly choose profits over patients’ safety,” Shamel said in her statement. Here’s the full statement:
SHAMEL OPPOSES HR 1215 and ISSUE ONE
Supporting our veterans must always be our number one priority. When elected, my votes will always ensure that our veterans are treated with the respect they deserve, and that includes voting against legislation like HR 1215. This bill was passed with the support of my opponent Bruce Westerman, who openly supports a price on life.
HR 1215 limits the amount of noneconomic damages for medical malpractice and healthcare lawsuits, essentially placing a price tag on the life of our people. It limits the rights of citizens and disproportionately hurts our veterans. Our veterans put their lives on the line every day, yet according to HR 1215, their life value is to be capped at a mere $250,000 minus their net worth.
HR 1215 that Congressman Westerman supports is similar to a constitutional amendment you will find on the state ballot this November here in Arkansas called Issue 1, which I also oppose. The fundamental difference between HR 1215 and Issue 1 is the amount of the price tag put on life; what will be on the ballot in Arkansas is a cap of $500,000. Whatever the circumstance, we cannot and must not place an arbitrary value on human life or human potential.
Instead, we must ensure our healthcare facilities are adequately staffed and that we provide the proper training necessary to reduce cases of medical malpractice. I will always fight to make sure our veterans receive the affordable and accessible healthcare they deserve, whether that is through dealing with Agent Orange or working to reduce wait time for medical care.
It is outrageous that our representatives would even consider attempting to tell a veteran what their life is worth. We cannot have elected officials who will openly choose profits over patients’ safety. A vote for me will be a vote to ensure that our veterans are protected with the same fierce loyalty that they have shown to us with their tireless and dedicated service to this great nation.
Thank you again for your support. My name is Hayden Shamel, and I look forward to proudly serving as your next Congresswoman from Arkansas’ 4th District