Health Care Bill Helps Trial Lawyers

Jazz Shaw points out that the House health care reform bill not only fails to meaningfully address tort reform but also makes it less likely that caps will be placed on claims for non-economic damages as many advocate. The bill provides for incentives for states to consider tort reform–as long as they don’t limit attorney fees or place a cap on damages. While conservatives greatly exaggerate the impact of malpractice on health care costs, this is still a cause of unnecessarily wasted money and those serious about reducing health care costs should address this problem.

This provides one example of why it is difficult to get anything done in this country. On one side we have the Republicans who are in the pocket of the insurance industry and will fight any reform, while on the other side the Democrats are unwilling to cross the trial lawyers (as well as being influenced to some degree by the insurance industry).

This is also why I continue to consider myself an independent as opposed to a Democrat despite voting exclusively for Democrats the last several years other than in local elections where everyone is a Republican. While I have a far greater degree for contempt for the GOP since it has been taken over by the extreme right and and has lost touch with reality, voting for the opposing party in a two-party system is not the same as totally embracing them.

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18 Comments

  1. 1
    patrick says:

    Amen- great post. I’m in the same boat.

  2. 2
    Donald Powers says:

    » Health Care Bill Helps Trial Lawyers Liberal Values http://bit.ly/2HJsMw http://bit.ly/OuUHe

  3. 3
    Samantha Simons says:

    » Health Care Bill Helps Trial Lawyers Liberal Values: Jazz Shaw points out that the House health care reform b.. http://bit.ly/1PTtJ

  4. 4
    Samantha Nicols says:

    » Health Care Bill Helps Trial Lawyers Liberal Values: Jazz Shaw points out that the House health care reform b.. http://bit.ly/1PTtJ

  5. 5
    Donald Powers says:

    » Health Care Bill Helps Trial Lawyers Liberal Values http://bit.ly/2HJsMw http://bit.ly/OuUHe

  6. 6
    Samantha Simons says:

    » Health Care Bill Helps Trial Lawyers Liberal Values: Jazz Shaw points out that the House health care reform b.. http://bit.ly/1PTtJ

  7. 7
    Samantha Nicols says:

    » Health Care Bill Helps Trial Lawyers Liberal Values: Jazz Shaw points out that the House health care reform b.. http://bit.ly/1PTtJ

  8. 8
    Eclectic Radical says:

    It’s worth noting that advocates of health care reform backed away from the so-called Patients’ Bill of Rights a few years back because of the House Republicans adding an amendment to deprive consumers of the right to sue their HMOs. Even Teddy Kennedy repudiated the bill, and he was its co-sponsor. It was passed by Republicans and conservative Democrats by a very narrow margin in the House and the nature of the Senate/House reconciliation vote meant that conservatives were able to pass it by an even narrower margin there as well.
     
    Regardless of how one feels about malpractice reform, one can see why this is not good from the perspective of the majority of liberals and consumer advocates of the world even before the influence of the trial lawyers is included. Giving wealthy corporations liability shields from the people whom they have harmed is not something of which we socialists generally approve.
     
    While I understand your position on malpractice reform, and generally agree on a lot of points, it’s important to remember how tort reform as pushed by Republicans and conservative Dems looks to liberals and consumer advocates. It takes a lot of explaining and a very good policy to convince them that patients’ right to legal satisfaction can be satisfied while protecting doctors from frivolous suits as well. Congressional advocates of tort reform have not offered good policy to go with their explanations, they have tended to offer various liability shields in the place of real malpractice reform.
    I’m certainly not going to deny that there is definitely a bipartisan chunk of Congress wedded to the interests of the insurance companies, trial lawyers, or both. There also legitimate reasons liberals and consumer advocates have problems with tort reform as advocated by corporate neoconservatives.
     

  9. 9
    Ron Chusid says:

    Eclectic,

    Malpractice reform has nothing to do with protecting corporations. Yes, many of the conservatives supporting tort reform with regards to malpractice might also shield corporations from legitimate suits, but each issue needs to be addressed separately.

  10. 10
    Christine Brandt says:

    » Health Care Bill Helps Trial Lawyers Liberal Values http://tinyurl.com/yb96333

  11. 11
    Eclectic Radical says:

    Ron, I was not suggesting that malpractice reform is the same as shielding HMOs from liability. What I was saying is that conservative proposals for tort reform nearly always propose the same kind of liability shield rather than offering an actual proposal to reform the means by which malpractice claims are administered. They would rather do away with the concept entirely.
     
    I agree completely that Democrats have opposed these proposals without offering better proposals, but can you see my point as to why many people would oppose right-wing policy proposals as they have been made up to this point in time?
     

  12. 12
    Dr. Kevin Alcena says:

    RT @globalman37: » Health Care Bill Helps Trial Lawyers Liberal Values http://bit.ly/4bQseG

  13. 13
    Ron Chusid says:

    If that is the case that conservatives try to combine tort reform for malpractice with proposals to shield corporations, then health care reform would have been the perfect place to address tort reform which is limited to medical malpractice.

  14. 14
    Eclectic Radical says:

    I won’t disagree with that.
     
    Nor will I deny that many of us on the ‘far left’ have a gut distrust of the phrase ‘tort reform’ because of the way the words are usually bandied about by the far right. This gets in the way of better policy being made on the issue.
     

  15. 15
    david freeman says:

    I followed your link to Jazz Shaw’s site and was disappointed with his misrepresentation of Howard Dean. It is subtle yet the result is grossly inaccurate. Dean’s statement about why tort reform was left out was a description of the political reality of what happened not a promise or a recommendation. Accusing Dean of laying “out the ground rules” that “the bill’s authors are following” is unfair and chronologically irrational. If you watch the video it is clear that Dean is not happy with the political reality but he is being honest in describing it. I believe he implies that tort reform should be addressed after this bill. Divide and conquer. Unfortunately, I could not figure out how to leave a response at his site (not willing to enable unlimited cookies at a site I don’t know)
    Eclectic Radical is right on target. If tort reform is included, Republicans will twist the tort elements to the point that liberals will have to vote no. I too support tort reform but I believe many people use it as a club to confuse matters. It’s worth doing but it is small potatoes compared to other items in the bill and it is small change compared to the other savings we can achieve. Yeah, 20 million a year is a lot of money but it’s less than the pay of even one of the top insurance compay CEOs. Give me a break – is this worth delaying insurance for the thousands who are dying every month for lack of insurance? Is this worth delaying reforms when my physician wife currently spends 20% of a 70 hour work week fighting insurance companies to get them to approve the procedures and drugs she knows her patients need?

  16. 16
    Ron Chusid says:

    David,

    I think Jazz’s post is open to more than one interpretation as to what he is saying about Dean. It could be interpreted as you did, but I also thought he was primarily using an awkward way of saying that Dean was describing the reality of the situation, and therefore was right when the legislation was written following his description of reality.

    Regardless, the main issue here is whether tort reform is addressed.

  17. 17
    Christine Brandt says:

    » Health Care Bill Helps Trial Lawyers Liberal Values http://tinyurl.com/yb96333

  18. 18
    Dr. Kevin Alcena says:

    RT @globalman37: » Health Care Bill Helps Trial Lawyers Liberal Values http://bit.ly/4bQseG

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