Instead of having yet another government-run nightmare, why isnt the government looking into what is driving up the costs of healthcare and deal with the problem from that end? Tort reform would go a long way towards lowering costs, and for a couple of reasons, at least.
Malpractice insurance is surely the single most costly item todays doctor has, and he cant do without it and stay in business. This has been detrimental to healthcare in a number of ways in and of itself. The quality of care for individual patients has been going down as the doctor has less and less time to spend with a patient and needs to see more patients per hour to cover his costs, that insurance premium in particular. Then he had to charge more per visit to maintain those premiums.
It is the same with hospitals, when stays have been curtailed in order to free the beds for more patients per month; and thats for the same reasons the doctor hasmalpractice and other insurances hospitals must carry or go out of business. Their staffs are becoming more and more specialized at the expense of personal care. Specialists spend less time with patients but there are more specialists, as evidenced on hospital bills. Many patients dont even remember seeing many of the names listed on their bills; the visit was so short and impersonal. All that is a direct result of an out-of-control tort system.
One need only look at the fabulous awards that juries allot to understand the fantastic cost of malpractice insurance. And, one need only to examine a few cases at random to see that in many such cases, those awards were outrageous. I, personally, was made aware of all this when I was looking into former Sen. John Edwards background when he was running for president. If not every case he won, surely the vast majority were won through playing on the jurys emotions, because none of them were won on merit. The facts simply did not warrant his clients winning, much less the amounts they won. Now multiply those findings times the thousands of trial lawyers who focus on medical malpractice, and it becomes painfully apparent that change is needed in how those cases should be handled and limits set on awards. (OK, maybe wiggle room for seriously egregious cases but those are exceptions rather than the norm today.)
We need only to examine the sources of political campaign contributions to individual and party campaigns to see that trial lawyers are the top contributors to our leaders, the same leaders who are proposing these complicated schemes to insure the public. We almost never hear of them talking about tort reform to lower costs first, though, do we? It is no wonder, though; with the amount the trial lawyers spend to protect their interests. What about the public interests?
There may be other factors involved in the rising cost of healthcare but tort reform is desperately needed before anything else is addressed. We need to stop the bleeding before buying more expensive bandages!
Aimé WattsDublin, N.H.
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