Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is once again wading into the debate on health care reform via her Facebook page. Last week she raised questions about the end of life counseling provisions contained in the proposed legislation… provision that have since been removed from the Senate Finance Committee bill.
This week she raises questions about one of the biggest weaknesses in the current House Senate reform proposals:
President Obama’s health care “reform” plan has met with significant criticism across the country. Many Americans want change and reform in our current health care system. We recognize that while we have the greatest medical care in the world, there are major problems that we must face, especially in terms of reining in costs and allowing care to be affordable for all. However, as we have seen, current plans being pushed by the Democratic leadership represent change that may not be what we had in mind — change which poses serious ethical concerns over the government having control over our families’ health care decisions. In addition, the current plans greatly increase costs of health care, while doing lip service toward controlling costs.
We need to address a REAL bipartisan reform proposition that will have REAL impacts on costs and quality of patient care.
As Governor of Alaska, I learned a little bit about being a target for frivolous suits and complaints (Please, do I really need to footnote that?). I went my whole life without needing a lawyer on speed-dial, but all that changes when you become a target for opportunists and people with no scruples. Our nation’s health care providers have been the targets of similar opportunists for years, and they too have found themselves subjected to false, frivolous, and baseless claims. To quote a former president, “I feel your pain.”
So what can we do? First, we cannot have health care reform without tort reform. The two are intertwined. For example, one supposed justification for socialized medicine is the high cost of health care. As Dr. Scott Gottlieb recently noted, “If Mr. Obama is serious about lowering costs, he’ll need to reform the economic structures in medicine—especially programs like Medicare.”  Two examples of these “economic structures” are high malpractice insurance premiums foisted on physicians (and ultimately passed on to consumers as “high health care costs”) and the billions wasted on defensive medicine.
Gov. Plain is right about the need for tort reform… One has to wonder why it isn’t a center piece of the health care reform proposals now before Congress the two intimately linked. Gov. Palin quotes extensively extensively from research by Dr. Stuart Weinstein of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons who notes:
Excessive litigation and waste in the nation’s current tort system imposes an estimated yearly tort tax of $9,827 for a family of four and increases healthcare spending in the United States by $124 billion. How does this translate to individuals? The average obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN) delivers 100 babies per year. If that OB-GYN must pay a medical liability premium of $200,000 each year (which is the rate in Florida), $2,000 of the delivery cost for each baby goes to pay the cost of the medical liability premium.
It’s no surprise that tort reform isn’t a priority for the Obama Administration and congressional Democrats, as the Washington Examiner’s David Freddoso noted last week they’re beholden to trial lawyers:
An Examiner analysis of the 15 firms on the National Law Journal’s “2008 Plaintiff’s Hot List” shows that for 2009, their employees have contributed $636,305 to federal politicians and PACs. Only $4,875 of that amount has gone to Republicans, meaning that the nation’s top trial lawyers are giving more than 99 percent Democratic this year. The PAC for the American Association of Justice, the top trial lawyer lobbying group, has been marginally more balanced, giving Democrats a mere 96 percent of its $627,000 in contributions.
These trial lawyers are especially concentrating on the Senate. Members of those same 15 firms have given $236,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee this year. And trial lawyers know that the Senate is controlled by one of their own — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who faces a potentially difficult re-election. Reid has taken in some $54,000 from the top 15 firms. According to OpenSecrets, he has taken $978,000 from the legal industry as a whole.
- Gov. Rick Perry: Tort reform must be part of health care reform – Washington Examiner
- Pull the Plug on ObamaCare – Peggy Noonan