Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tort Reform

When Republicans had to face the fact that American health care needed to be reformed they decided to fight the “No” party perception with fixes of their own. Until the last two years of Bush’s administration Republicans owned Congress and the executive office and health care wasn’t even a blip on their radar.

It kind of reminds me of when Reagan said, “That was before we even knew there was a race problem in America.” I think some Americans knew it!

When forced to face the issue their answers were tort reform and buying insurance across state lines. I want to talk about tort reform.

For ten years I videotaped depositions and played them back in court houses for a living. It was lucrative for me. I did a lot of work in Madison County. It’s been nick named the lawsuit capital of the world. It’s America’s railroad hub and there are a lot of injuries in that line of work. There are a lot of frivolous lawsuits too. The judges there are famous for being very pro- plaintiff and lawyers flock there to settle their cases.

Needless to say corporations hate the place.

The fact of the matter is states like Missouri and Texas have had caps on settlements for almost five years. It’s done absolutely nothing to bring down the cost of premiums and everyone knows it.

It seems like it should though, doesn’t it? Doctors pay less for insurance so why isn’t that cost passed down to us?

The fact of the matter is insurance represent a very small part of the cost of health care. Not to mention $250,000 would hardly compensate someone for the loss of a wrong leg due to a hospital’s negligence and these things actually do happen.

One of the things that drive up costs is our romance with all things high-tech. Doctors cover their butts against law suits with expensive high tech test that are for the most point redundant.

I’ll never forget getting ultrasound pictures of my kids in the womb. I got a videotape of my son crossing his legs and flashing a big peace sign with his fingers. I had to settle for stills of my daughter though. By then, they said if there was proof of anything potentially going wrong on it they’d be held liable.

I wonder if there really are well meaning Republicans that believe tort reform would address these things.

I doubt it!


Michael Kirsch, M.D. said...

Tort reform in medicine is not just about the money, Dave. See under Legal Quality.

Doggie said...

I wasn't very eloquent, but I was trying to point out the fact that doctors have to cover their butts. I'm sure that's not fun. The article was great. Doctors don't wake up saying to themselves, "Who can I injure today?" Negligence does happen though. We have to find a way that ends paranoid, wasteful tests but addresses negligence. It's beyond me but caps ain't the answer.

Doggie said...

Of course universal health care would take care of a lot of the problem.