From Pine View Farm

Red Herring 0

Medical tort reform:

The health-care debate has been marred by the distortions, demagoguery, and outright lies that are typical of modern American political discourse. For example, lacking any substantive ideas of their own, reform opponents have seized on tort reform – taking away the rights of injured patients – as their solution to America’s health-care problems, despite ample evidence that it’s no solution at all.

Let’s call this tort-reform fixation what it is: a sign that many Republicans are bereft of ideas and obsessed with an issue that will do nothing to lower care costs or cover the uninsured. Medical malpractice is a political crutch that opponents of the health-care bills lean on time and time again to justify their efforts to derail reform.

The author of the column is a trial lawyer. Nevertheless, that does not keep him from being right. There may need to be some reform medical malpractice law in the interest of justice and good medical practice, but the effects of malpractice insurance, suits, and settlements on costs are minimal:

“It’s really just a distraction,” said Tom Baker, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and author of “The Medical Malpractice Myth.” “If you were to eliminate medical malpractice liability, even forgetting the negative consequences that would have for safety, accountability, and responsiveness, maybe we’d be talking about 1.5 percent of health care costs. So we’re not talking about real money. It’s small relative to the out-of-control cost of health care.”


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