Parasites and Health Care

September 29th, 2009

justice_scales1The parasites in question are trial lawyers, particularly those who specialize in medical malpractice lawsuits.  These unsavory ambulance chasers, like personal injury lawyers in general, aggressively pursue potentially lucrative cases through in-your-face TV ads and tasteless roadside billboards.  Some even lurk in hospital corridors, shoving business cards into the hands of potential clients and their families.

Why do they behave so distastefully?  Because it makes them rich.  These kinds of lawyers work for contingency fees, taking a hefty slice of whatever their clients get in a settlement or after a trial.  In the end, the lawyers often make more money than their clients.  And whose pockets are picked in the process?  Mine and yours, of course, through higher medical costs that we all have to pay one way or another.  By some estimates, the medical malpractice system adds $200 billion or more per year to the cost of medical care.  Much of that money — our money — goes into the pockets of trial lawyers.

Current health care reform proposals may, when finalized, nod in the general direction of malpractice reform, only because the public and opposition politicians have made a stink about it.  But it won’t be effective malpractice reform because the Democrats won’t permit that to happen.  Why?  Money, of course.  The trial lawyers contribute huge amounts of their money — really our money, remember — to Democrats to ensure that nothing happens to cut off their flow of ill-gotten gains.  And it works.

Here are excerpts from an interesting article in The Wall Street Journal, Why Medical Malpractice Is Off Limits:

Almost all…groups with a stake in health reform—including patient safety experts, physicians, the AARP, the Chamber of Commerce, schools of public health—support pilot projects such as special health courts that would move beyond today’s hyper-adversarial malpractice lawsuit system to a court that would quickly and reliably distinguish between good and bad care. The support for some kind of reform reflects a growing awareness among these groups that managing health care sensibly, including containing costs, is almost impossible when doctors go through the day thinking about how to protect themselves from lawsuits.

The American public also favors legal overhaul. A recent Common Good/ Committee for Economic Development poll found that 83% of Americans believe that “as part of any health care reform plan, Congress needs to change the medical malpractice system.” …

On Aug. 25, at a town-hall meeting in Reston, Va., Howard Dean, former chair of the Democratic National Committee, was asked why there is nothing in the health-care proposals about liability reform. Mr. Dean replied: “The reason that tort reform is not in the bill is because the people who wrote it did not want to take on the trial lawyers….  And that is the plain and simple truth.” …

The upshot is simple: A few thousand trial lawyers are blocking reform that would benefit 300 million Americans.

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5 Responses to “Parasites and Health Care”

  1. Brian Bagent |

    The worst of the lot may well be former presidential candidate and former senator John Edwards. He “made” his fortune almost exclusively on cerebral palsy cases.

    He actually “channeled” a dead child in one of his trials.

    John Edwards of the 20,000+ square foot house, of the fleet of cars/SUVs, and of the green team; John Edwards of the “two Americas,” of the expensive coif and manicure and $1000+ suits, and private airplane. That’s how much money he stole from the medical people and insurance companies. Yet he has the gall to speak of “two Americas.” And the people of North Carolina were stupid enough to elect this huckster. It is as Socrates said and Plato wrote – the sophists will be our undoing.

    Cerebral palsy, we know for certain, is caused by oxygen deprivation during labor/childbirth. What we do not know with anything approaching medical certainty, but John Edwards argued successfully, was that it was all the fault of the ob/gyns and the L&D nurses.

    After my son died on the operating table, I was on my guard for such as Edwards. Would that a dead one could come back and tell us of his misery on the 9th plane.

  2. Len |

    The solution to medical malpractice is amazingly simple. Stop medical malpractice.

    It may well be that “a few thousand trial lawyers are blocking reform that would benefit 300 million Americans,” but if you are going to be realistic you must also add several Republicans, blue dog Democrats, insurance and drug companies, etc. to that list. The trial lawyers are not the only people standing in the way of health care reform. How many insurance company and drug company executives have the 20,000+ square foot house and all that other stuff that you say John Edwards has? The number is likely larger than you think. Mr. Edwards does not live on that island by himself. Not by a long shot.

  3. Brian |

    Moral equivalence rears its ugly head.

    Insurance and drug company execs actually are part of a chain of productivity, unlike most plaintiff’s trial lawyers. Certainly some must be overpaid and unqualified, but unlike the trial lawyers, when they lie, cheat, and steal after the fashion of people like Edwards, they frequently end up fired or in prison or both.

    If you doubt it, we could call forth the ghost of Ken Lay, or ring up the federal pens where Fastow, Skilling, and Bernie Evers now find themselves.

    Your assertion that malpractice lawsuits would go away if the malpractice would stop is, to be as polite as I can be, naive.

  4. Rob |

    It’s a very interesting, though sad chapter of the US health system. I have just learned something I (as a non-American) didn’t know.

  5. Brianna |

    Good article Tom, thanks.

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