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WP: Health Reform's Taboo Topic


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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/30/AR2009073002816.html

Health-care reform is bogged down because none of the bills before Congress deals with the staggering waste of the current system, estimated to be $700 billion to $1 trillion annually. The waste flows from a culture of health care in which every incentive is to do more -- that's how doctors make money and that's how they protect themselves from lawsuits.

Yet the congressional leadership has slammed the door on solutions to the one driver of waste that is relatively easy to fix: the erratic, expensive and time-consuming jury-by-jury malpractice system. Pilot projects could test whether this system should be replaced with expert health courts, but leaders who say they want to cut costs will not even consider them.

What are they scared of? The answer is inescapable -- such expert courts might succeed and undercut the special interest of an influential lobby, the trial lawyers.

(click the above link for the rest of the piece)

No, it's not the only problem. But it's a damn good place to start working.

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/30/AR2009073002816.html

No, it's not the only problem. But it's a damn good place to start working.

I agree with this in principle. But trying to set this up is nothing but yet another opportunity to get bloodied from all sides. Who decides the makeup of these courts? What constitutes an "expert"? You'll be pummelled from all sides.

Try it, and I foresee some of the same people demanding tort reform will next be shrieking that these guvvamint panels are denying them their right to a judgement from their peers.

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From the referenced article:

As the nation debates health-care overhaul, not addressing defensive medicine would be a scandal, a willful refusal by Congress to deal with one of the causes of skyrocketing health-care costs. The real crisis here is not that health care is broken; people of good will could come together and create the conditions for rebuilding the incentive structure of health-care delivery. The real crisis is that Congress is broken, and that it answers to special interests instead of the needs of all Americans.

Trial lawyers in the wallet of the DNC. Tort reform WILL NOT be a factor of any new health care bill although it is BADLY needed.

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No, it's not the only problem. But it's a damn good place to start working.
Trial lawyers in the wallet of the DNC. Tort reform WILL NOT be a factor of any new health care bill although it is BADLY needed.

Here in Florida, the number of lawsuits, the amount of damages awarded per lawsuit, and the total amount awarded in malpractice lawsuits, have gone down every year for the last 15.

(I haven't seen any statistics for the whole country.)

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Here in Florida, the number of lawsuits, the amount of damages awarded per lawsuit, and the total amount awarded in malpractice lawsuits, have gone down every year for the last 15.

(I haven't seen any statistics for the whole country.)

L,

Have a link to support this?

Edit,

I have found that legislation is used to limit these types of cases. Fortunately, I've never had to be embroiled in one of these.

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Special court systems for doctors? Is that even constitutional?

It depends where you are talking about these special courts for one. Its debatable in some states. It has been upheld in some and struck down in others.

Maryland has a system where you have to go through "special courts" first. You can get out pretty quickly though and get to "real court." Other states still have systems which require arbitration.

Other issues arise if the federal government tries to pass something like "special courts." Issues such as the Seventh Amendment may play a larger role in any federal legislation on this topic.

That being said, medical malpractice payouts result in less than 1% of medical costs. Malpractice lawsuits are extremely expensive to the plaintiff and are not often filed at all, let alone frivolously. In the first 6 months of 2009, for example, 6 malpractice cases went to trial in all of DC. 3 were verdicts for the defendants, 3 were verdicts for the plaintiffs. Of the three for the plaintiffs, one verdict was for more than the plaintiff's final money demand, one was for less than the defendant's final money offer, and one was right in between the plaintiff's final demand and the defendant's final offer.

Believe it or not, the court house is the place designated to settle disputes, and it appears its working somewhat effectively, at least in DC.

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Speaking of taboo health reform topics in America: how about whether healthcare in general should be a for-profit industry? Or is there a need to regulate which sectors of the industry can be for-profit?

I can't help but believe that the addition of investors' interests and the margins they require at each level (patient care, insurance, pharma) are contributing to the rise of costs as well.

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Speaking of taboo health reform topics in America: how about whether healthcare in general should be a for-profit industry? Or is there a need to regulate which sectors of the industry can be for-profit?

I can't help but believe that the addition of investors' interests and the margins they require at each level (patient care, insurance, pharma) are contributing to the rise of costs as well.

Although true, if there was no profit motive then there would be no advancement in quality of care, new drugs, procedures, advancement of medicine in general, etc. The profit motive is the main reason we have such a high standard of quality medicine/care.

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Can someone explain to me how health courts eliminate so called "defensive medicine" and provide a wonderful outlet to victims of malpractice at the same time?

Well, just like the costs/benefits projections of the current proposals by the administration, it's all just theory. Formula's concocted to advance ones own position on the subject.

However, the fear of, and therefore the preventive costs to protect doctors/nurses/medical labs, from lawsuits, whether they be frivolous, justifiable, or justifiably filed resulting in an overly compensated settlement, is a real problem that adds an astronomical cost to the overall system.

I don't know the answers, as it's not my job to. But if it were, I believe I'd find some. And BTW, anytime we can come up with ways to need fewer lawyers, the better of we all are.

Think about that.

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Well, just like the costs/benefits projections of the current proposals by the administration, it's all just theory. Formula's concocted to advance ones own position on the subject.

However, the fear of, and therefore the preventive costs to protect doctors/nurses/medical labs, from lawsuits, whether they be frivolous, justifiable, or justifiably filed resulting in an overly compensated settlement, is a real problem that adds an astronomical cost to the overall system.

I don't know the answers, as it's not my job to. But if it were, I believe I'd find some. And BTW, anytime we can come up with ways to need fewer lawyers, the better of we all are.

Think about that.

Well, I'm a lawyer. I think we'd be better off with less scum bag lawyers. And we'd be better off with more trustworthy and ethical lawyers. We'd also be better off with less scum bag doctors, insurance execs, plumbers, and teachers. And better off with more ethical doctors, insurance execs, plumbers, and teachers.

Anyway, there is no thought process behind the theory. The idea that health courts are going to provide a legitimate place of justice for those actual victims of malpractice and also reduce "defensive medicine," (which is largely a myth in the first place), makes no sense.

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Well, I'm a lawyer. I think we'd be better off with less scum bag lawyers. And we'd be better off with more trustworthy and ethical lawyers. We'd also be better off with less scum bag doctors, insurance execs, plumbers, and teachers. And better off with more ethical doctors, insurance execs, plumbers, and teachers.

Anyway, there is no thought process behind the theory. The idea that health courts are going to provide a legitimate place of justice for those actual victims of malpractice and also reduce "defensive medicine," (which is largely a myth in the first place), makes no sense.

Well, let me take the second part, first. I don't think the theory of defensive medicine is "largely" a myth. Just like unnecessary, money generating procedures aren't. My guess is, that lawyers are the ones convincing doctor's to cover their ass with more insurance than they'll ever need, just to be safe. And collecting a nice fee themselves to draw up the paperwork.

As to the first part, I never used the word scumbag. And I agree, we need fewer scumbags in the world. What I thought I had so cleverly done, is inferred that the majority of the reasons why lawyers are needed, is because some injustice or crime has been committed. And having need for fewer of them, by default, would be a good thing.;)

I understand how a lawyer would strongly disagree.

Please, don't sue me.:silly:

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Well, let me take the second part, first. I don't think the theory of defensive medicine is "largely" a myth. Just like unnecessary, money generating procedures aren't. My guess is, that lawyers are the ones convincing doctor's to cover their ass with more insurance than they'll ever need, just to be safe. And collecting a nice fee themselves to draw up the paperwork.

As to the first part, I never used the word scumbag. And I agree, we need fewer scumbags in the world. What I thought I had so cleverly done, is inferred that the majority of the reasons why lawyers are needed, is because some injustice or crime has been committed. And having need for fewer of them, by default, would be a good thing.;)

I understand how a lawyer would strongly disagree.

Please, don't sue me.:silly:

Scumbag was my word... and its deserved for quite a few people in my profession. ;)

But, what you find from defensive medicine is that no one can quantify it. You also don't hear about how many times "defensive" testing actually helped a doctor find something they wouldn't have otherwise found. That's because "defensive medicine" is a political tool now. I'm not sure what the difference between "defensive medicine" and "unnecessary procedures" would be either.

I'll just say this... the standard by which the law holds doctors (and lawyers and other professionals) is that they act as a reasonable doctor would. It doesn't require them to be perfect. It doesn't require them to perform any tests which would be unreasonable. It only requires them to be reasonable. If doctors are performing unreasonable tests, which they get paid forby the way, its very convenient to blame lawyers. But the law does not ask them to do so.

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