Since we’re on the subject of healthcare reform, I’d like to talk about one of the issues that affects healthcare the most: lawsuits.
Back in June, Obama delivered a speech before the American Medical Association. They cheered some of the things he said at first, but he actually said, “don’t get too excited, just hold your horses, guys…” before then announcing that he would never support tort reform.
He was instantly booed by the entire gathering.
One of the things no Democrat wants to admit is just how much medical malpractice lawsuits contribute to the exorbitant costs of healthcare in America, largely because trial lawyers give so damn much money to the Democratic party. That’s completely aside from the fact that both our current President and First Lady as well as the last Democrat pair are ALL lawyers (well…Slick Willie was disbarred, to be fair). The Democrats have all salivated over passing landmark healthcare legislation before the 2010 elections, and while they’ve all whined and moaned about how many people are uninsured because it’s so expensive, all but one of them have refused to admit the glaring truth, something that made John Edwards richer than God: trial lawyers make a killing off of medical malpractice lawsuits (no pun intended), and they are completely out of control.
Who’s the one to admit it? Barack Obama himself. He called it a ticking time bomb. Yet as he did so before the AMA he immediately turned around and said he’d never support reform.
While there are genuine malpractice issues that require regulations and the right of a patient to have recourse if negligence is truly to blame for severe injury, if you look at it honestly, these lawsuits cost far more than they’re worth. Some of the suits that end up in court are legitimate. Unfortunately, many aren’t–they’re simply the result of a patient or their family wanting to blame somebody for the abrupt change in their lives. I have seen very talented doctors do all they can to save patients they knew would not survive because of the severe trauma find themselves in court over their patient’s death because the family just wanted someone to pay. When I work as an EMT, we have to document every single thing right down to the miniscule things that were said because we might be sued, too.
Thanks to lawsuits, we have defensive medicine. Doctors will order the most expensive tests for things they can often eliminate as possible diagnoses simply to cover themselves on the off chance that something goes wrong and they end up getting sued. When a $250 x-ray can suffice for a complaint of back pain, doctors sometimes order $1500 MRI’s just to cover their backsides. Numerous blood tests will be performed when, in fact, a doctor can usually tell by symptoms what the issue is and confirm it with one or two tests. That sort of practice in medicine costs a hell of a lot annually, driving up insurance costs.
Doctors, hospitals and city EMS agencies will often try to settle out-of-court because the cost of going through trial is greater than just quietly settling, which is another massive problem. It tempts those who know they don’t have a strong case to sue anyway in the hopes of getting anything they can. Whether the plaintiffs and defendants settle or go to trial, these suits cost the entire country a lot of money in a lot of different ways. It also costs the court system precious time, thousands of hours that could be better spent on, say, our flailing and foundering criminal “justice” system. (I know, common sense is annoying–but why ignore it if it’ll work?)
One of the biggest solutions is staring us right in the face and we’re completely ignoring it. I still have not heard one person, one single expert, give solid, factual evidence that insurance companies are the problem. I have to wonder, though, as should we all–why would the Democrats ever be willing to even consider tort reform when they’ve got a near-endless supply of campaign funding from trial lawyers?
Reform belongs in the areas where the problem is, and right now the Democrats are doing little more than making noise.