Saturday, October 31, 2009

Band-Aid on open heart surgery

Tort "reform" is one of the Republican's favorite health reform. But of course it's not really a health reform. Its purpose is to allow large corporations to escape financial responsibility for their actions.

You thought it was about doctors and nurses!? Don't be naive.

You thought it was about saving you money? Step away from the Kool-Aid!

Malpractice litigation costs about $20 per person per year. The cost problem that America faces relative to our economic competitors among the western democracies is more like $4000 per person per year. If we're serious about cost containment, malpractice costs - 0.5% - are waaay too low to matter. At all.

None of this $20 per year would return to consumers in the form of lower prices. Pricing of a $12,000 annual premium is just not sensitive to a $20 difference. For a buck and a half a month, you're going to shop on coverage features, right? The whole $5.4 billion per year would go right where the Republicans intend it to go: to the corporate bottom lines of medical and insurance corporations.

Furthermore, given how many preventable deaths and injuries are caused by medical errors, more litigation, not less, looks like a goad to more efficient allocation of medical resources. If we had a more effective means of preventing these errors, I'd be all for it, and sure enough computerization of records is in the current bills both for bureaucratic and medical efficiency, but meanwhile it would be bad policy to remove all punitive accountability for medical errors.

Republicans disagree. This is because they really believe in government of the corporation, by the corporation, and for the corporation.

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