The President made a visit to Madison County, Illinois today. Why visit a blue state backwater? To remind the rest of the country how wrong it is. You see, Madison County is considered the most plaintiff friendly county in America- and that's just wrong! So, Dubya showed up to clean up the courthouse.
"What's happening all across this country is that lawyers are filing baseless suits against hospitals and doctors. That's just a plain fact," Bush said. "And they're doing it for a simple reason. They know the medical-liability system is tilted in their favor.
Let's unpack that quote a little shall we- first, he blames lawyers for filing "baseless suits." Trying to determine whether a claim has merit is always a little subjective. Unless, of course, you are George W. Bush, because in Crawford it's "just a plain fact." Nevermind that "baseless" has no legal meaning- I assume he means "frivilous," which is a legal term of art for a claim that has no basis in fact or law. A case might lack "merit", and still not be frivilous.
Let me give you an example- suppose a patient dies from complications from surgery despite the surgeon's best efforts and use of reasonable medical practices. The patient's widow files suit alleging malpractice- as is her right. I feel that it is important to remind everyone that in this country, you have the absolute right to seek redress in the courts- you might not win, but you have the right to try. Each side presents evidence, and the jury decides which way the evidence points. If the doctor wins, it's because he convinced a jury that he did nothing wrong- to use the legal standard, he provided that level of care expected of reasonable medical professionals. Is this a "baseless" suit? It might be "meritless," but it's not baseless.
But the driving impetus behind tort reform has little to do with determining liability- it's about money. Key to most med mal reform plans is capping "non-economic" damages to $250,000. "Non-economic" means pain and suffering. In other words, "I don't care if you get hurt, we can't really place a dollar value on suffering." If the proposed reforms don't actually changes the rules of liability, then whom do they benefit.
Insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and hospitals that have the audacity to charge $5 to $10K per day.
Oh, and when you look at the actual facts, you see whose interests the President has closest to his heart.
Med mal is just the tip of the iceberg- class actions and products liability are on the GOP's radar. Class actions are an absolute necessity- companies can get away with collective murder if the individual loss is so low that no one will complain about it. You have to aggregate claims to keep polluters, larcenous corporate directors, and predatory lenders at bay.
Why would the guy who ran as a simple, plain spoken man of the people and a defender of Crawford values against the coastal elites side with the wealthy corporate robber barons? Well, duh? Isn't it obvious? So that the rich keep getting richer. For a man of the people, he really seems to be bad for people.
So let's edit that quote a little.
All across the country insurance companies want to help incompetent doctors and makers of defective, dangerous products avoid taking resonsibility for their actions. They're doing it for a simple reason- cabbage. Lettuce. Moolah. Scadole.
And that's just a plain fact.