Democrats & Liberals Archives

Tort Reform: Look at the shiny object!

So Tort Reform is the answer to all that ails everyone with regards to getting proper health care, eh? If one listens to the screaming heads on a certain a 24-hour cable “news” station, you’d certainly think so.

I recently had a conversation with an old friend about tort reform; it went something like this:


Old Friend: “Well, we need tort reform.”
Me: “Really? What do you know about tort reform?”
Old Friend: “All those frivolous lawsuits and stuff.”
Me: “What do you mean?”
Old Friend: “Well, there are so many people out there trying to work the system with frivolous lawsuits.”
Me: “Forgive me but I still don’t know what this has to do with Heath Care.”
Old Friend: “Well when a person sues a doctor they shouldn’t get awarded all that money. It only helps the trial lawyers and hurts the doctors.”
Me: “Okay. But what is tort reform?”
Old Friend: “Letting the doctors do their job and not worry about frivolous lawsuits.”
Me: “Right, but that isn’t tort reform.”
Old Friend: “Well we need it.”

I don’t blame my friend for being so misinformed; he was manipulated rather than educated. He was just parroting noise that he heard somewhere. It’s a common trait nowadays for many to repeat rather than research.

For if anyone wanted to research the whole tort reform issue, as it relates to health care, they would have discovered the CBO report (link) identifying that malpractice lawsuits represent less than 2% of all of the heath care costs.

And if they read the CBO report they would have realized that ‘tort reform’ for health care will actually reduce insurance premiums, not for health care but for malpractice insurance premiums. Yup.. all of this noise about tort reform is actually about reducing the malpractice insurance premiums for the doctors.

Those pushing tort reform for health care reform allege that if doctors can work without fear of lawsuits the doctors can provide better health care. They also claim that health care premiums will come down because of caps on plaintiff awards and reduce the number of lawsuits.

CBO says it’s not going to happen. But the CBO still claims that even if all that happens, the potential reduction in health care premiums could be .04%. CBO considers the cost savings to individuals as ineffective.

But let’s not ask the CBO for estimates; let’s look as some case studies. Missouri and Texas both approved tort reform; can these states attest to the reduction in health care premiums and cost savings for the people using health care?

Nope.

Both Missouri and Texas put in tort reform. Both have caps. And both have watched health care premiums increase while malpractice insurance premiums decreased. Oh and the number of lawsuits basically stayed the same.

Tort reform, as it relates to health care, is a red herring, meant to distract from real health care reform.
I think my isolated conversation with my old friend illustrates the larger discussion that’s going on today. It’s a discussion that includes a 24-hour news cycle with self-generated news and opinion through paid pundits voicing misinformation. Casual citizens watching these entertainment shows (they are not news), like my friend, can’t tell the difference between truth and fiction.

The reason why my friend didn’t understand tort reform (or for that matter, many of the other opinions) was because that opinion on tort reform wasn’t his own. He didn’t do independent research. And when you don’t do independent research, you don’t fully understand the issue. He was merely repeating and regurgitating someone else’s opinion.

Being the green supporter that I am and by channeling Spiro Agnew, I’m going to reuse Mr. Agnew’s phrase: “Nattering Nabobs of Negativitism.” Yup. That’s what my friend and these minions are: Nabobs.

Drop and move away from the remote and go to a public library. (Or are public libraries just as evil of public health care because they are run by governments too?)

Posted by john trevisani at September 14, 2009 10:18 AM
Comments
Comment #288059

If indications are as you say that tort reform really affects nothing; that is all the more reason to do it: A painless opportunity to make a major concession to those supposedly in favor of reform but opposed to your plans.

But Paul Krugman said it best - there is a growing concensus that Obama is wasting his time trying to appease those that can’t be appeased.

Posted by: Schwamp at September 14, 2009 11:32 AM
Comment #288061

If President Obama does not appease those that cannot be appeased will the bulk of America support him after the bill is passed? Will they reject future critisism about a failure to garner bipartisian support because … well … they just could not be appeased?

I would like to see him waste more time appeasing them, and building support for any healthcare reform and not ram it through as a one sided bill.

This is what he promoted and promised in his election.

And I am sorry I think that President Obama needs to appease the American people, not the one media outlet.

Posted by: Edge at September 14, 2009 11:52 AM
Comment #288062

So John, you don’t believe your own President when he says that defensive medicine is adding to higher health care costs? He’s going to spend money on the problem so there must be one, right? Actually I’m with you and didn’t believe him either.

That’s the main problem with expecting a logical solution to health care from a political process. And that’s my criticism of most progressive ideas; they sound great until the politicians get a hold of them.

Ever been to Johnstown PA’s airport? I have, several times. It’s a prime example of how politics determines needs and the best use of resources. Of course I could bash so called conservative politicians too. Mr. “You Lie” Joe Wilson continues to support pork defense spending at SCRA just as the Rep before him (Spence) had done.

So back to health care, I do think there is something to be done by making malpractice insurance reform an incentive to physicians to follow best practices. Turn the stick into a carrot by reducing or eliminating claims against doctors who follow AMA (or some other group’s) best practices. Really any idea that ultimately rewards physicians for providing quality care in the most cost effective manner should be looked at, and you shouldn’t necessarily oppose it just because others, now on both sides, are playing politics with the issue. It is the cost of health care that is the real issue, and we really need to get away from a cost reimbursement, not what you need but what you want, approach with financial rewards and not penalties.

Tort reform as discussed by Republicans and now by Obama is just a political issue. It is devoid of reality. Kind of like the need for that airport.

Posted by: George at September 14, 2009 12:00 PM
Comment #288064

Edge,
So far he has moved on the public option, moved on tort reform, moved on strengthening anti-illegal provisions.

Can you sight one area where the un-appeasable have moved? No. So your comments that he should continiue to build bi-partisan support are just a smoke-screen for drop the whole thing. Why can’t any of the non-appeased just say what they mean. Your comments are all smoke, Edge.

Posted by: Schwamp at September 14, 2009 12:54 PM
Comment #288065

look, the president states “this is my bill. pass or fail, it is on me”. so, there is no risk for republicans to support reform. almost every republican states “reform is needed” then followed by “i will not support the president”. i am asking all the repubs out there to honestly say reform is not needed. that america stops working just to pay for healthcare. i am not talking about working to get insurance, i am talking about working to pay off medical debts, and prescriptions.

i know every rep and sen has had some constituant tell them how they need relief, how they can not afford the medicine to keep them alive. if they can listen to those life situations, and STILL vote against healthcare they need to be replaced. the democrat ticket needs to run adds in those counties, cities, parrishes, and 1) show the need and hardship 2) show the repub voting against helping this individual. it is that important.

shouldn’t the representatives WANT to help the weakest? i guess when you surround youselves w/only the wealthy or the country club types you forget what the average person is going through.

i have a senior citizen who lives next door. she pays $700 for rx’s, and $350 for a supplemental insurance. that leaves her w/$14.00 for everything else in a month. now, that’ breaks my heart (my bleeding liberal heart). but, there is no need for a change? the rich and palin go after her and tell her “obama has a death panel”? why the lies? why the distortion? why are republicans missing the point?

i think of joe wilson, representing his area. his area includes a 22.5% unemployment rate. was he speaking for the unemployed and uninsured when he so ignorantly yelled “liar”. my bet is that they wanted him to listen to the president, and to act in their interest.

this will get passed. it is the right thing to do. you repubs can cooperate RIGHT now, or miss the boat. you can have a say RIGHT now, or miss the vote. you want to be heard - go to the president directly. snowe has - and she is being heard. you can change your direction RIGHT now or risk losing every political election from here on out. this will pass, and if you do not get on board, so will you.

Posted by: bluebuss at September 14, 2009 1:24 PM
Comment #288066

Bluebuss, considering that there are millions of people passionately opposed to the plan in its current form and the last poll I saw said that 53% of Americans are opposed to it, this notion that opposing it would cause anyone to “lose every political election from here on out” sounds like a fantasy.

Obama’s plan for healthcare would directly improve coverage for a minority of Americans, and at best, not change coverage for the vast majority who are happy with their current coverage. That’s what he says himself. And the likeliehood of it NOT changing things for the worse for the majority is extremely high, which suggests that being against the plan now would be even more a political advantage if it ever went into effect.

Posted by: Paul at September 14, 2009 1:42 PM
Comment #288068

Paul:
Really? 53% say they are opposed to the bill. Really?

You know i have to wonder how many of those ‘millions’ actually read the bills (or for that matter ANY BILL).

Those nattering nabobs of negativism are opposed to anything that they hear, not what they know.

i’d also have to take exception to your analysis of Obama’s plan. The 40+ Million currently without health care that stand to benefit from this plan would probably differ with your ‘analysis’.

Posted by: john trevisani at September 14, 2009 1:57 PM
Comment #288069

my point was that there is this vast right wing group stating that the sky is falling, that obama is destroying the lives of americans, that he will kill the free market and usher in socialism and that is false. i am saying that when this passes, and it only improves 47 million lives that those who stood up and called him “liar and socialist” will look foolish. then when obama is going for his next term he can point out to this situation and say “they called me a liar, and stated i had a death squad, and i only did out what i wanted to do and that was to protect you, my fellow americans”.

and the thing about polls - 53% are opposed to this right? what about those who have no phones due to no money. are they being polled? if it is “on the street” poll, are they talking to the homeless? sometime, i know this may be hard to believe, there is leading or leaning in the polls. remember john mccain was going to win PA? those polls were off by 11%.

Posted by: bluebuss at September 14, 2009 2:07 PM
Comment #288070

Schwamp

President Obama has had no GOP in his office since late April. Mentioning those things outloud has little to do with them being in the bill. Could you point towards the exact language of the Tort reform please? I have seen none. I have read non of Pesident Obama’s specifics.

You are right, if those things appear in the bill, then he has moved our way and I am wrong. No arguement. Unfortunately from where I sit I don’t trust that they will be in the bill in any meaninful way. And I hope I am wrong.

Posted by: Edge at September 14, 2009 2:18 PM
Comment #288071

Edge-
Sen. Grassley said it out loud: we could give him everything he wanted, let them have their amendments, and if none of the Republicans would vote for it, he wouldn’t either.

So, let me pose the question: where are the Republicans signing on to these bills, much less making concessions?

That will help you sort out the theatre from the policy. If the Republicans wanted anything to move forward, they would have moved already. They would have found a suitable compromise. Instead, they insist that we just scrap everything and start over again, doing things their way.

They shut themselves out, and did so on purpose. They stalled things by promising bipartisanship they didn’t deliver on. We waited months on them to get a proposal out of the Senate Finance Committee that we had weeks before.

There is no point in being bipartisan with the Stiff-necked Senate Republicans. There’s no deal most would honor, no concession from our side that would gain concession from their side, no waiting that would produce results. We’re tired of letting the minority dictate policy. They lost that privilege in the last two elections. If they choose to hold their breath until they get what they want, we’re not going to stick around to put them on the respirator.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 14, 2009 3:02 PM
Comment #288072

stephen you are right! it is time to get things moving. we won, and now we will proceed with what the president wants. nice to have a president who wants to help americans rather than wage wars.

the reason why repubs want public option killed that it will change the insurance industry. everyone can keep what they have, but when they see the american public option, many will choose to change. the insurance co’s know this. that is where the fight is. they either will have to change or, become obsolete. they have dictated to us the public all of these years, and now there will be another option.

can’t wait for the commercials for 2012. last chance repubs - is it in you to do the right thing? and the right thing is to insure the sick and poor.

Posted by: bluebuss at September 14, 2009 3:23 PM
Comment #288073

I will not argue that the Republicans are stalling. Stephen I don’t see them making concessions. That is tactical. BlueBuss is saying what really is the bottomline to me. Dems are in control, pass it.

What I don’t understand is you are stating they have reached out, gotten nothing, but are promoting what the GOP wants. If you have the votes why change? Why move middle and give into GOP demands? Does that reflect that President Obama is simiply moving there because of public opinion? That to me is a good thing. Public outcry had been heard and our President is adjusting.

My first post still seems to apply. That if President Obama makes concessions, promotes this bill, gets it passed, but the GOP cries that it was not bipartisain, his reputation will suffer with the voters. Why not be even more deliberate and invite the GOP in, show you have reached 80% to their 20%? Be blatant in your bipartisainship and embarrass the GOP by the time the bill passes.

Posted by: Edge at September 14, 2009 3:47 PM
Comment #288074
The 40+ Million currently without health care that stand to benefit from this plan would probably differ with your ‘analysis’.

Whatever the number of people without insurance is, it is NOT the same number as those without healthcare. And this 47 million number being repeated is simply false. That number includes anybody who went without insurance for any length of time during the year (such as people between jobs). It also includes millions of people who are eligible already for Medicaid and SCHIP but who haven’t applied for it—these people would get their benefits if they ever ended up the hospital.

And 9.7 million in the 40+ million are not US citizens. I thought these weren’t going to be convered by Obama’s plan. Don’t let the cat out of the bag now!

Also, 17.6 million of the uninsured have incomes of more than $50,000, and 9.1 million have incomes exceeding $75,000. Most of these people could buy their own insurance but choose not to.

The actual number of people who are too poor to buy insurance, don’t get it through their jobs, and are too rich to qualify for existing governmenent assistance programs is around 8 million. We can agree to do something to help these 8 million, and to make healthcare more affordable and accessible to everybody else, but exaggerating the problem in order to completely overhaul a system that works well for the vast majority of us is deceptive and dangerous. But like Rham Emanuel said, it would be a shame to waste a good crisis. I guess the first step in not wasting it is to exaggerate it.

Posted by: Paul at September 14, 2009 4:17 PM
Comment #288075

Those polls that are being bandied about by conservatives that supposedly 53% oppose Obama’s plan and 80+% like their current healthcare are deceptive at best. First, most of that thumbs up, thumbs down polls on health plans are being responded to when so much air time is being given to utter malarkey about death panels, government takeovers, etc. Polls of people who are happy with their health care are also deceptive because people who don’t have to really use their health care don’t think it’s a problem. If you are relatively healthy and get insurance from work you are unlikely to have had a claim denied, pre-existing condition claimed, coverage dropped because you get sick, escalating premiums if you actually have the gall to expect the insurance company to pay a claim if you get sick. I am sure a poll of people who have had a significant health issue would come out a lot more unfavorably.

As to losing elections, the GOP is so terrified that something will pass that they are willing to toss up Hail Mary passes like death panels because it will cost them elections, Paul. It will in two ways. One, if it passes they will have lost yet another political battle where they have fired all of their guns, refused to participate in a meaningful way, and been caught in a breathtaking number of outright lies. Two, if it passes, it will improve not only to cost of health care for everyone but improve the overall quality of health care in the country all without them helping in any way. They will be the losers who sat through the game screaming lies from the sidelines and their lies proved to be just that - lies. They are the ones facing their Waterloo not the Democrats. However, the Dems have not acted like they are the ones driving because cowardice in politics seems to be rampant on the Blue side of the aisle.

Posted by: tcsned at September 14, 2009 4:56 PM
Comment #288076

The thing that gets me is the numbers that keep poping up by the liberals. Why not just be honest and say how many people want health insurance but can’t get it because it is to expensive, leaving out the illegals, the ones that choose not to buy insurance and others that have been mentioned. The number then would be below 15 million.

Posted by: KAP at September 14, 2009 5:02 PM
Comment #288077

edge - if it were me, and i had this control, i would not reach out and look for middle ground. and it is frustrating to watch and listen to ppl so misled w/such loud voices. yet, he is still trying to reach those voices.

pres obama is a better person than i am. he is open, and trying to obtain a bipart plan. the moment i was called a liar, i would have made a budgetary reform and passed this my way.

do i think he tries too hard to reach the right? yes. but, i think he is a fair person. i think he has tried talking, reasoning, and actually deal making w/some repubs. it is not working as of yet. i think he still feels he can reach them.

i would have rammed it in your face. i would have a billboard w/bush’s deficit running too. i would have a large list of corporate WELFARE recipients plastered w/bush’s face, and the corporate names. i would also have plastered the adulterous “leaders” photo’s everywhere too. but, like i said the president IS obviously a better person than i am.

but how long. how long can he take it? it’s only been 7 months and look what he has been through. they have said this deficit is his, they have called him a socialist, they said he has a death panel, they said he is brain washing our children, they have stated his big gov’t is out of control (has not expanded gov’t as of yet). now, he’s a pretty fairminded person to take any of those things.

i feel like he’s charlie brown. lucy (the repubs) are holding the ball. everytime he tries to kick the ball and shape the future of this country, lucy (repubs) pull the ball back and good ole charlie brown takes it in the pants. oh brother. now, i look at it this way. repubs say we are going to lose in 2010 - i say from now until 2010 have it charlie browns way for once. kick the ball charlie brown - and to quote a tennis star “take the fing ball and ram it down their fing throats”.

like i said, he is a much better person than i.

Posted by: bluebuss at September 14, 2009 5:08 PM
Comment #288081

Paul:
i do not post things without understanding fully what i post. That being said, i am not faultless and could be wrong.

The 40+ million number of uninsured Americans has been, as you stated, a commonly referred to number.


  • Census Bureau

  • WebMD

  • NCHC

  • Again, saying that i’m exaggerating the numbers that the Census Bureau is incorrect. i said 40+ Million and the Census Bureau claims 46.3 million of uninsured Americans.

    Posted by: john trevisani at September 14, 2009 6:35 PM
    Comment #288082

    John, I wasn’t meaning to say that you personally were exaggerating or that the number 46.3 million is “wrong.”

    The number could be correct, for what it is, but we have to actually look at what’s being counted. If you have 46.3 million apples, that doesn’t mean you have 46.3 oranges. The 46.3 million number does not reflect the number of Americans who don’t have healthcare. It includes nearly 10 million non-US citizens, millions more who qualify for existing government assistance but have never signed up for it, and well over half of the total number includes people making in excess of 50 thousand dollars a year (many of whom make over 75 thousand a year) and who choose not to buy coverage.

    Also, as I mentioned earlier, to be included in that number, 46.3 million, you only had to be without health insurance for some period of time in the previous year. There are plenty of reason why a person who has access to insurance may go without it for a month of two. Being between jobs. Having recently gone through a divorce. Or simply being a young person who recently graduated from college or is otherwise in a transitional stage of life and for whatever reason doesn’t make purchasing or otherwise acquiring health insurance a priority.

    In most cases, a person should never be without health insurance, and something should be done to address that. But although it’s a problem, it’s not as widespread or dire as claimed.

    Posted by: Paul at September 14, 2009 7:57 PM
    Comment #288083

    John-

    I think the problem with that number is that it includes 9.5m of “foreign born not a citizen” and/or 10m with a household income greater than $75k (table 7 of the Census Report). Assuming those two groups are mostly exclusive then the number of persons who actually need a subsidy is considerably less.

    But focusing on just the people who aren’t covered won’t get you reform. 58.5% of the population, me included, are stuck in employer provided programs and have been told that “nothing will change.” That’s a huge chunk of the country to exclude and yet expect to support the so called reforms.

    Single payer was a reform. Public Option was a dishonest political ploy to get us to Single Payer. From listening to the President both are now off the table. There is no talk of getting us away from the employer based insurance system that causes the majority of the people the majority of the pain (pre-existing, portability, underinsured, over insured). What’s left is to ask folks who get nothing to support legislation aimed at the 46m, and it’s no wonder people want to peel the onion on that number.

    Posted by: George at September 14, 2009 8:05 PM
    Comment #288086

    Bluebuss, President Obama is in office, I respect the office and he gets the pressure of being, having to be, above the fray. He’ll be salt and pepper this time next year.

    Are not some of the Blue Dog Democrats holding that football too? They have the votes, why blame the GOP?

    Posted by: Edge at September 14, 2009 8:33 PM
    Comment #288089

    Lawsuits and the fear of lawsuits have become too prevalent. There is a whole class of predatory lawyers who search after class action suites.

    You can point to the fact that relatively few of the sillier lawsuits succeed. But the fear of them makes everybody do silly things. Products have absurd warning about things only an idiot might try, because some idiot has tried and then won a lawsuit. Playgrounds are closed because schools fear liability. You can almost never find a high dive. When I was a kid every pool had one.

    Nobody wants to tolerate negligence, but there is a inevitable percentage of errors. When we criminalize them or subject them to torts, people try to hide mistakes or deny them rather than figure out how to mitigate them.

    Reasonable people who have done nothing that a reasonable person would consider bad should not fear the law, but they do.

    Tort reform would include cap on payouts, so that they are closely related to actual damages. They would allow the “reasonable person” defense. They would require people to opt-in to class action. They would provide protection and exemptions for good faith errors and for people providing services free or at cost, i.e. volunteers. They would eliminate the joint and several liability provisions. They would allow for the loser to pay the reasonable court costs of the winner.

    These things are reasonable. Most civilized countries already have similar provisions. We used to be more reasonable. Entrepreneurs are great when talking about most things since they create wealth. In law they are dangerous since there is a negative wealth effect.

    Posted by: Christine at September 14, 2009 10:13 PM
    Comment #288090

    Christine,

    Tort attorneys think THEY are entrepreneurial.

    Go to several years of schooling including four or six dedicated to the legal field…start an office by hanging out a shingle with your name on it…advertise in every way possible…come across a serious flaw in a product or method…research every aspect of that flaw, how it affects consumers, why it was developed the way it was developed (Tobacco, asbestos and DDT come to mind)…find the clients who have been adversely effected by the product or method…get the individual or class onto a docket…sue and wait years (perhaps decades) while appeals and opposition shenanigans continue…then, if you are lucky, draw a big paycheck…not as big a paycheck as the CEO makes in the company you just sued for dereliction, but big.

    Why is that not considered entrepreneurial?

    Posted by: Marysdude at September 14, 2009 10:32 PM
    Comment #288094
    Why is that not considered entrepreneurial?

    It IS entrepreneurial, but so is the guy who hangs out on street corners selling little baggies of powder. The guy who busted into my house a few years back and took my stereo was extremely entrepreneurial, but the jury is out (not literally, unfortunately) on whether or not such personal drive and initiative is really good for society.

    Trial lawyers actually do perform a function which is valuable to our society. While their motives are personal profit (whose aren’t?), their actions protect consumers and those who suffer wrongful harm, and there are many times when the best thing in the world is to have a good litigator on your side.

    The problem as I see it is that politics is largely about making law, and a huge portion of those who end up in politics, especially on the Democratic side, are first lawyers, which means that they at least start out with an adversarial point of view towards all the other sectors of our economy. That colors what they see politics as being “for.” And that’s a problem even before you consider the vast amount of campaign contributions pumped into the system by trial lawyers.

    Posted by: Paul at September 14, 2009 11:40 PM
    Comment #288097

    Paul-
    You’re assuming that everybody starts as a liability lawyer of some kind. In all actuality, lawyers run the gamut, from contract law, to tax law, to environmental law. That doesn’t necessarily mean adversarial, for the folks who defend these people are often lawyers themselves.

    Tort Reform, the way Republicans are formulating it is a bad joke, and it’s been demonstrated to do little good. If anybody’s being adversarial, it’s the folks who are sometimes the target of these suits reacting against the lawsuits that often keep them accountable.

    I think the Reform needs to be a lot subtler than the “beat you over the head” type reform the Republicans are suggesting.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 15, 2009 12:17 AM
    Comment #288098

    Tort reform as several have pointed out, is not very effective at reducing costs.

    Defensive medicine will continue as long as there are courts.

    I work in engineering. We make decisions based on liability. Most business decisions are organized on reducing litigation. It’s called risk management.

    One of the reasons for rising malpractice costs has to do with insurers decisions often to settle rather than fight a lawsuit. It’s a purely short term economic decision. But there does seem to be, anecdotally, to me, some disconnect between malpractice insurance and the actual liabilities involved. Unfortunately, most tort reform doesn’t really address this gap in the justice system.

    I started a small engineering firm and had to buy professional liability insurance. The cost was unwordly from many insurers. After some research, I did find some reasonable cost insurance by joining a pool of engineering firms. Many insurers were simply throwing engineers into the same category as contractors. Very different businesses. Very different lawsuit exposures.

    By grouping every risk group together they can charge enormous rates, yet often it’s just lazy business practices to do so. It seems many large insurers simply don’t care. They have monopolies on the market share and don’t sweat the small stuff. Big companies just pass through the cost.

    Posted by: gergle at September 15, 2009 12:29 AM
    Comment #288137

    Tort reform does nothing to eliminate frivolous lawsuits, putting a cap on damages will probably only increase the number of lawsuits as lawyers go for quantity in lieu of big single payouts. Also, does anyone actually believe an insurance company is going to actually lower rates if some sort of reform is passed? Where is the precedence for this? They will just reap more profits plain and simple. Also, it will help to protect pharmaceutical companies who put dangerous drugs on the market as it will only limit their liability - where is the motivation for them to be careful?

    What this boils down to for me is ethics or the lack thereof. Lawyers who push frivolous lawsuits in front of courts are unethical. Insurance companies who rip people off are unethical. Politicians who take money from big donors to push their policy agendas are unethical. People who spew lies to push a political agenda are unethical. Using some twisted version of religion to persecute someone for who they are is unethical. Our country teaches that anything that makes a profit is ethical and squashing anyone in your way is ok too. We have lost our moral center as a country and until we reclaim that this stuff will continue and get worse whether or not tort reform is passed because it addresses a symptom not the disease.

    Posted by: tcsned at September 15, 2009 7:23 AM
    Comment #288149

    john

    actually your guy obama recently stated that doctors should not have to practice “DEFENSIVE MEDICINE”. i would think that would be where the biggest savings would be.

    you left out gov’t mandates on insurers, that also drives the cost up. funny thing is neither of these issues is addressed in that steaming pile of sh#t called HR 3200.

    “i’d also have to take exception to your analysis of Obama’s plan. The 40+ Million currently without health care that stand to benefit from this plan would probably differ with your ‘analysis’.”

    really, 40+ million, really? i think your messiah recently stated that the number was 30 million, which is still high. i believe the number of people who want insurance but can’t get it is more like 13 million, once you account for those choose not to purchase it, those who are between jobs, and illegal aliens.

    seems like the nattering nabobs of negativity are on the left screaming the sky will fall if we don’t pass this bill, and 40,50,or 30 million ( depending on who you believe ) can’t get healthcare. BALONEY!


    Posted by: dbs at September 15, 2009 10:13 AM
    Comment #288156

    He knocked it from 40 to 30 when somebody told him that ten million of those 40 were illegals and for now he’s supposed to stick to the story about illegals not getting covered.

    Posted by: Frank at September 15, 2009 1:37 PM
    Comment #288157

    dbs:

    40,50,or 30 million ( depending on who you believe ) can’t get healthcare. BALONEY!

    My number came from the Census Bureau. It’s not a matter of belief; it’s a matter of comprehension.

    Posted by: john trevisani at September 15, 2009 1:44 PM
    Comment #288168

    remember the census is a random address sampling. i fear that the numbers are far greater. hard to get a census taker into a “tent city” when they have no addresses.

    bush won the war on the middle class. the 3rd war which gets very little mention. he took strong thriving america and brought it to it’s knees.

    Posted by: bluebuss at September 15, 2009 3:48 PM
    Comment #288188

    John, but once again, although that number comes from the Census Bureau and probably measures what it says it measures, it is NOT the humber of people that “can’t get healthcare.” The Census Bureau isn’t even saying that their number represents those who “can’t get healthcare.” You seem to be taking that number completely out of context.

    Posted by: Paul at September 15, 2009 8:20 PM
    Comment #288192

    Gergle

    The problem is that they ARE entrepreneurial. The difference is that the law is essentially a zero sum game (i.e. for every winner there is a loser in equal proportion) and rule of law is supposed to make the world more predictable. If you follow the law, you should be reasonably free of fear of the law. It is not a good thing for a clever lawyer to figure out a new way to expose you to loss.

    You mention your own engineering firm. Of course you should be professionally liable for what you do and you might need insurance for that. But what most people are worried about is lawsuit payouts well in excess of what you put in. For example, if your negligent actions result in $100 worth of damage, you should not fear having to pay too much more than that. Are you confident in that way?

    Beyond that, there is the reasonable care standard. Sh*t happens. Many things that seem obvious after the fact cannot have been reasonably foreseen before. Entrepreneurial lawyers tend to make you responsible for the downsides of risk w/o the upsides.

    Paul

    Your drug dealing example is also entrepreneurial. We can respect his methods and skills w/o condoning what he is doing. The same goes for some lawyers. We do indeed need lawyers, just as we need pharmacists. But in your example above the “pharmacist” is selling more than we think acceptable. The same goes for some lawyers.

    Paul

    Re getting health care, see what the Dutch do =
    Holland abandons public option

    Posted by: Christine at September 15, 2009 8:36 PM
    Comment #288200

    john

    “My number came from the Census Bureau. It’s not a matter of belief; it’s a matter of comprehension.”

    it still includes those who choose not to have insurance, those who are between jobs, and don’t have ins. temporarily, and illegal aliens. once again i believe the number is actually closer to 13 million, if you consider only those who want ins. and can’t get it. sorry not quite the huge crisis the left would have us believe. care to address any of the other points, or would you rather keep spinning. nattering nabobs of negativity, anyone? LOL!!!

    Posted by: dbs at September 15, 2009 9:46 PM
    Comment #288208

    This whole illegal immigrant talk is a red herring. These people already get “free” health care in emergency rooms across the country. This care is much more expensive than getting primary care from a general practitioner. So we are already paying for their care and paying a premium for it. What to do about the illegal immigrants here is another issue. They are here and the status quo that the right is advocating provides them “free” care or care that they will never pay for and gets rolled into what the rest of us pay.

    Posted by: tcsned at September 16, 2009 7:36 AM
    Comment #288211

    tc

    the point is they’re being included in the number of uninsured. the 30, or 40, or 50 million, which ever you choose to go with.

    Posted by: dbs at September 16, 2009 9:23 AM
    Comment #288215

    Christine,

    What people fear, in medicine, is the problems with sympathetic juries. Most cases that actually go to judgement are good examples of bad medicine. Most actual judgements get appealed and are reduced. An issue that is real, is that people who are injured or their families often are looking for a way out, or revenge. That makes even good doctors targets, which is why they need insurance.

    Sure medicine is complex, lots to go wrong. But this is actually a scenario for being vigilant about problems. The insurance industry often chooses to short circuit the justice system which ends up being bad for everyone. It’s not a zero sum game. Bad doctors get weeded out, and bad practices get remedied.

    I never worried much about being sued, but it would have been stupid to not have insurance, both general and professional liability. I should say we did do jobs before we had professional liability, but this limits the contracts you can get. Many starts up do that. You learn over time what to do and not do. While you can get dragged into court for simply being associated with a project gone bad, over which you had no control, if you do your job according to standards and document it, you are in the clear. A big part of the job is teaching your staff what they can and cannot do or say. Engineers are not risk takers. Contractors have a bigger problem than engineers.

    Posted by: gergle at September 16, 2009 10:33 AM
    Comment #288216

    I like the judge who rejected the SEC and B of A settlement recently. He’s forcing them to go to trial.

    Maybe if we beefed up the justice system a little this cynical law/insurance system that everyone seems to hate, might find itself actually doing something of value rather than just shuffling the cases and seeing what shakes out.

    Posted by: gergle at September 16, 2009 10:39 AM
    Comment #288217

    so, 80% of americans are happy w/their insurance right? what about the 20%. just because the majority is happy, we forget the 20? we sweep them under the rug? we ignore them? well that is what is going on, and that is what the president wants to stop.

    contrary to belief, he was not raised “elite”. he was raised on food stamps. that is the difference between him, and the last president. he knows the needs of the poor, and weak, and unlike the last one is not going to ignore them. he is giving them a voice - and believe me it is a long time coming. do the 80% like it, obviously no, but that does not change the needs of the poor.

    our president stated: i will not let an american lose everything due to medical bills.

    i think a lot of ppl on this site are young, and do not understand what happpens to those w/medical issues. speaking from myself, i have a “recession relative” living w/me due to medical bills. i brought my family member in. but what about those who have no one. poor, ill, and homeless happens. if that is the sh*t christine is talking about, then she is right.

    i don’t ever recall anyone saying “poor, ill, and homeless that’s what i strive to be”. no one wants that in life, but it happens. now, do you as an american say tough sh!t, or do you want to help them out. i personally would hope as americans we help them out. and can not imagine not doing so.

    i want americans to survive, feel secure, feel they belong. be it poor, weak, ill. feel that there is someone listening, caring, and trying to do what is best for the least in our communities.

    Posted by: bluebuss at September 16, 2009 10:51 AM
    Comment #288287

    I believe the numbers of unwilling uninsured is closer to one hundred million…and I got my numbers the same place those who believe it to be less than twenty million…out of my dark hole.

    Number one: why would we laugh off twenty million Americans? Or ten million? Or five million?

    Number two: it is not JUST these numbers that create the health-care crisis, so spouting garbage at them merely distracts from the serious issues.

    Number three: Denial is a stage of death preparation, alcoholism, etc. Those in denial about our health-care cost’s impact on the economy, people’s health and welfare, and the common good of the nation, are certainly in a state of denial. Someone should place them in a twelve step program…if they have insurance to cover the costs…hmmm…

    Rep. Gingrey of Georgia just joked that the fourteen thousand Americans who are dropping from the ranks of insured daily aren’t losing their insurance, “they are just losing their jobs”…he’s not in a state of denial, he’s in a state of disrepair. He is also a Republican…go figure…and from a Southern state…hmmm…I wonder, can it be?..nah, it can’t be the water, because I drink the same water. It’s just something about Southern Republicans…they all belong to the same Country Club of crazies.

    Posted by: Marysdude at September 18, 2009 5:19 AM
    Comment #288288

    PS:

    Count off the names of Republicans from Southern ststes whom are either Governors (Sanford comes to mind), United States Representatives (Gingrey), or Senators (Sessions), etc. Then figure out the percentage of Southern politicians you would trust with governance, if they were the deciding vote on life and death matters…then write an essay on why these arse-wipes keep being elected…

    Are conservative voters in the South all born with Diablotus of the Bleet Hole?

    Posted by: Marysdude at September 18, 2009 5:32 AM
    Comment #289117

    Many of us have always believed that greed is one of the factors that make our healthcare system the most expensive in the world.. Government has a place in keeping businesses…lawyers, drug companies, doctors, insurance companies…from making excessive profits off of people who can least afford it.

    Even Republicans are starting to get behind the concept that government intervention on behalf of consumers is not only necessary…it is also good.

    If we can put arbitrary caps on jury awards, we can put those same caps on the profits that drug companies, hospitals, doctors and insurance companies make.

    Tort reform in itself will only save our 2 trillion dollar a year healthcare system about 0.5%

    In itself…not a significant amount. But if you take the concept further and start putting caps not only on lawyers, but doctors, hospitals , insurance companies and drug companies…now you are talking real savings.

    Government limits to jury awards. Yes.
    Government limits to doctors fees. Yes
    Government limits to drug companies profits. Yes
    Government limits to insurance companies profits. Yes

    Now we are all talking the same language

    Posted by: Norris Hall at October 10, 2009 11:46 AM
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