Reformers: Failbots In Disguise
After successfully convincing the stupid and the opportunistic that Barack Obama had already picked out a tiny mahogany casket for Trig, former person with a respected position in society Sarah Palin is back to sell tort reform.
Using Texas as a case study, Palin makes the rather persuasive argument that tort reform could save us billions and billions of dollars. However, she doesn’t cite any evidence that Texas’ tort reform has actually saved any actual patient any actual money. This is largely because it hasn’t. Tort reform approaches one of the lowest cost and highest reward areas of medical spending and cripples it, almost entirely to the benefit of the provider. Want proof? Let’s look at one of Palin’s links from the ABA Journal.
In fact, Cunningham says, many of the nursing homes he has been dealing with over the years have either stopped carrying insurance or have switched to $250,000 so called wasting policies. Under those policies, defense costs are subtracted from the coverage amount, leaving less for payouts to plaintiffs.
But not all defense lawyers were mum.
“Some of us on the defense side were telling legislators that they were going way overboard on some aspects, and the problems today bear it out,” says Roby, the rare defense lawyer willing to speak out on the issue.
In an interview, Roby outlined criticisms that could come straight from a talking points memo from the Texas Trial Lawyers Association:
• There are a few plaintiff friendly jurisdictions in lesser populated areas, but big city courts had few suits that did not involve medical error and “a legitimate bone to pick.”
• Stay-at-home mothers, children and the elderly often don’t have enough income or proof of future income to qualify for significant economic damages. Thus the cap on noneconomic damages makes their cases too costly for plaintiffs lawyers to pursue.
• The dramatic decrease in litigation takes away incentive for risk managers and others to ensure carefulness in medical care.
When you enact a system of “tort reform” that puts the people making medical mistakes in the position of not even needing to insure themselves because it would cost too much to hold them responsible, you’re increasing the cost of health care for patients. When you create a legal system that says the only relevant variable in a practitioner’s liability is the income of the person they’re operating on, you create an effective caste system in medicine. The only people worthy of careful medical care are the ones who are rich enough (or potentially rich enough) for it to hurt the provider.