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Tort Reform Possible?

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  • Tort Reform Possible?

    With all the hysteria surrounding pretty much anything political these days, including the new healthcare bill, what has evaded the focus of many is the tort reform bill being voted on by the House next week.  See the bill's text:

    If interested, call your rep.  While some of it may be crude and only applies to government funded/subsidized programs, this may be the only time we see this opportunity in our lifetimes.  Estimates vary, but a comprehensive study I saw out of Health Affairs puts defensive medicine spending at $55B annually.  While just a drop in the bucket of our $3T plus healthcare spending every little bit helps.  What is more is the level of psychological interference litigation poses on the doctor-patient relationship and proper decision-making.  We've enjoyed a nice lull in premiums since the insanity of the early 2000s, but one never knows when the next premium scourge will come, especially since premiums are tied more to bond returns in insurer's portfolios than they are quality of care, something we have no control over.  Anyhow, thought this might raise some eyebrows.

  • #2
    Keep in mind that Congress passed sweeping legislation that purportedly provided "Affordable Care" to America, yet didn't touch on med mal and tort reform.

    An individual mandate, some limits on pre-existing conditions, free / low cost vaccinations, screenings, and preventative treatment, and med mal / tort reform seem like the basic ingredients to making health care somewhat more affordable.  Add in some sensible level of subsidy for the poorest Americans and perhaps the ability to negotiate prescription prices down to some level like 150-250% of the average price in Canada and Europe and we might get somewhere.

    Nevertheless, one party rammed through their version of "affordability" and now the other party seems dead set on ramming through bad legislation.  Ugh. :?


    • #3
      Ha.  Concur with your sentiments.  But on this narrow issue I think support is warranted - at least from physicians.


      • #4
        We have it in Texas.


        • #5
          To me tort reform is a no brainer for reducing medical care costs.  The premium is only a small expense in the great scope of increased expenses brought on by defensive medicine.


          • #6
            This bill sounds like the California system, MICRA.


            • #7

              To me tort reform is a no brainer for reducing medical care costs.  The premium is only a small expense in the great scope of increased expenses brought on by defensive medicine.
              Click to expand...

              It is a no-brainer but it's vigorously opposed by a well-funded and politically-active interest group...the trial lawyers.  And most legislators are lawyers, not doctors.  It will be tough to pass, especially a "loser pays" system of civil litigation such as that which exists in the UK.

              I'd like to see the Congress pass meaningful tort reform AND the ability to purchase medical insurance across state lines (a truly competitive national health insurance marketplace like that which exists for every other type of insurance) but I'm skeptical it will ever get done.

              Politicians blow smoke up our ****************** about these every election cycle but always seem to cave when its time to vote.


              • #8
                It's either states rights or not. Federal system can't get it both ways. That's for both tort reform and health care insurance. If federal wants to abdicate funding to states it's hard to argue the interstate commerce of health insurance at the same time.

                Remember tort reform also comes with heavier regulatory oversight. Cali is nice on reform, but we have lots of state headaches's a balance. One I'm willing to for over a ton of expenses, but hey. It's sunny San Diego!