Many experts have pointed to tort reform as a key element of any effort to hold down the costs of health care.
According to Investor’s Business Daily:
Old Democratic presidential aspirant John Edwards won $175 million in judgments over a 12-year period suing doctors, hospitals and insurance companies, everyone but the candy stripers, over infant cerebral palsy cases allegedly caused by mishandled deliveries.
As the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists noted in a study in 2003, cerebral palsy could not be blamed in the “vast majority” of cases on delivery trouble. Edwards enriched himself by using bad science to bankrupt innocent physicians.
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Its not just the insurance costs, but these lawsuits cause doctors to run additional and possibly unessential procedures:
The New York Times has reported that as a result of such lawsuits, “doctors have responded by changing the way they deliver babies, often seeing a relatively minor anomaly on a fetal heart monitor as justification for an immediate cesarean.”
Yet strangely, tort reform is not part of any of the Democratic party bills revising the United States health care system.
[Obama] told the American Medical Association that he is “not advocating caps on malpractice awards.” Even though they might significantly lower medical costs, Obama said he believes caps “can be unfair to people who’ve been wrongfully harmed.”
That might very well be the real reason, but there is a major question-mark that arises when you look at campaign contributions from Lawyers during the 2008 presidential election.
At Open Secrets you can pull up campaign contributions by candidate and industry. The are calculated from PAC contributions and contributions from individuals giving more than $200, as reported to the FEC. Individual contributions are generally categorized based on the donor’s occupation/employer.
If you look at the latest Federal Election Commission (released 7/13/09), you see that President Obama received the most cash from Lawyers/Law Firms (more than $43 million) almost 3x more than the number two candidate Hillary Clinton ($15 million), John McCain was number three he received less than a 4th of the Obama money ($9.9 million)
If the President was really serious about cutting health care costs he would have his democratic cronies work on Tort reform, that same IBD article reported on a quantitative study that shows the effect of malpractice suits on health care:
The accounting firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers says about 10% of the cost of medical service is attributable to medical malpractice lawsuits. Roughly 2% is caused by direct costs of the lawsuits; an additional 5% to 9% is due to expenses run up by defensive medicine.
YIKES, right now the CBO reports that Obamacare will not lead to reduced costs just think of what tort reform could do to that projection.
I can’t think of any reason Obama would not include tort reform in his planning. I can however, think of $43,071,129 reasons. Maybe its time for the Democratic Party to stop talking about the insurance industry, and take a look at the legal industry.