On January 5, "President" Bush traveled to Collinsville, Illinois, to discuss tort reform. The basic premise is this: "runaway juries" give such outlandish awards to "frivolous" malpractice lawsuits that insurance companies, HMO's, doctors, hospitals and drug companies are being run out of business.
His handlers picked this location because St. Clair county and neighboring Madison county have had 720 malpractice lawsuits filed in the past seven years. Sounds like a lot, right?
14: Number of those cases that actually went to trial and got a jury verdict.
7: Number of cases decided in favor of the plaintiff.
1: the number of jury awards that exceeded the President's proposed damages cap of $250,000.
Now, having sat on a malpractice jury myself, let me say there is such a thing out there as a frivolous lawsuit. The case I sat on had absolutely zippo merit whatsoever. It still costs the doctors money to defend themselves.
Most of those cases referenced above were presumably settled out of court, but that's likely because the doctors assumed they would lose so they chose to offer an acceptable amount rather than leave it up to a jury to decide.
Fair enough. But research indicates that the costs associated with malpractice lawsuits contribute to about one-half of one percent of health care costs.
Two alternative proposals being discussed -- though not by the White House, which is merely trying to safeguard the profits of private hospitals, wealthy doctors and drug companies -- include establishing an independent malpractice suit review panel that would determine whether there was merit to a particular case before it was allowed to go to trial, or establishing a separate branch of courts with judges trained in malpractice issues. Additionally, a majority of malpractice cases are brought against the same doctors over and over and over again. Those doctors need to go.
Malpractice does occur. Sometimes people's lives are destroyed by careless doctors...or by drug companies that suppress negative data. Bush is currently supporting legislation that would make it illegal to sue the manufacturer of any drug that had received FDA approval, even if that approval was later withdrawn. Vioxx was approved by the FDA.
Just like with WMD's and Social Security, this is another bogus "crisis" with a "solution" that is predicated on lies and is really just a hand-out to special interests.