Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Tort reform reality...

(My thanks to commenters below) I guess I have not written about this idea - which I indeed support.  Not just due to the normal friction between doctors, lawyers, and engineers in jokes, mind you, but because our medical malpractice system truly has been shown  - like large banks - to be incapable of self-regulating.

That said, it it NOT much help in addressing health care costs.
The CBO report lends credence to Republican arguments that substantive limits on malpractice lawsuits will reduce health-care costs. However, President Obama opposes one of the chief proposed changes the CBO studied, caps on jury awards, and analysts give the measures little chance of passage.
"These numbers show that this problem deserves more than lip service from policy-makers," Hatch said in a statement. "Unfortunately, up to now, that has been all the President and his Democratic allies in Congress have been willing to provide."
The letter comes in response to questions Hatch raised during the Senate Finance Committee's recent debate over health-care reform.
Elmendorf wrote that newly available research prompted CBO to update "its analysis of the effects of tort reform." The agency's conclusion: A package of reforms that included a $250,000 cap on damages for pain and suffering and a $500,000 cap on punitive damages "would reduce total national health care spending by about 0.5 percent."
The federal government would reap a substantial portion of those savings, the CBO said, primarily through reduced Medicare costs. [More]

There are other (usually older), larger estimates of savings, but the CBO is the Gold Standard for these comparisons.  It is as well the most recent. Also the recent exposure of the McAllen, TX medical fiasco - a state that boasts strict malpractice limits - is not encouraging.

It is hard to imagine how tort reform would help the uninsured, for example.  Like removing interstate barriers to insurance sales (which the HCR bill allows via coops) it is a small, worthwhile gesture that avoids tackling any substantive curve-bending.

Nonetheless, I think the Republicans could easily get tort reform if they were to negotiate in good faith.
I got this note from someone with many decades' experience in national politics, about a discussion between two Congressmen over details of the stimulus bill:
"GOP member: 'I'd like this in the bill.'

"Dem member response: 'If we put it in, will you vote for the bill?'

"GOP member:  'You know I can't vote for the bill.'

"Dem member:  'Then why should we put it in the bill?'

"I witnessed this myself." [More]

Now about the other 99.5%...


Anonymous said...

It's kind of humorous how you're jumping on the bandwagon of the many democratic partisans trying to blame republicans with vague comments about 'not negotiating in good faith' for the lack of action on the supposed centerpiece accomplishment promised by Obama for the first year. The reality is the democrats had 60 Senate votes and a healthy majority in the House of Representatives. How the republicans negotiated wasn't really relavant. The issue is why democrats couldn't pass what they wanted to with that kind of majority and why do so many defenders of Obama & company think people are so stupid that they can be distracted with these kind of pathetic attempts at 'inside info' about those disingenuous republicans that seem to be messing things up.

John Phipps said...


It is humorous, perhaps. Then you agree Republican claims of partisanship failing to include them were bogus?

This is also tantamount to a parliamentary system, which doesn't seem to be the "republican way" either.

Anonymous said...

No, I don't agree....and I don't see how one follows the other. The Democrats were obviously partisan (which I don't think is a dirty word or vile accusation) and Republicans were obviously partisan, that's how parties move their agenda forward and how they block agendas they disagree with. The point I was making was that the numerous attempts by Democrats to create the impression that the behaviour/attitude/odor/ or whatever of Republicans was the thing that caused them to not be able to get those in their own party to move their agenda forward when they had a whole year of complete control. I see this as a strategy to divert people from noticing the 2 elephants in the room which is (1)the lack of leadership ability of Obama & Reid to gain the followership of their own party members and (2)the obviously negative reaction of the public to the reality of what the Democrats wanted to do.

Anonymous said...

A week ago I sent an email to Sen Evan Bayh complaining about his vote on health care bill. Today I received an answer which sounded like a good conservative Republican. Guess he wants to keep his seat next election! I pay almost half my income in taxes, fed., state, & co. Maybe I own too much good Indiana farmland! Maybe I should either get a new CPA or begin cheating on my taxes!