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Tort Reform Does Not Equal Health Care Reform

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I will be the first to admit that I am not a big fan of the newly enacted health care reform signed into law by President Obama. While some of the provisions I may agree with, as a general point I think the legislation is too voluminous and goes too far. In this observers opinion, true reform should have been addressed one step at a time and in moderation. For example, a simple bill not allowing insurance companies to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions would have sufficed in that area. I am further concerned about increasing taxes, the effect on our economy and any so called “penalties” derived on individuals or companies as a result of this legislation.

However, rather than engage in Democrat bashing I believe it’s fair to say that Republicans too have failed for many years to truly engage in an honest health care debate. Seemingly, Republican leadership has been focused from the state to the Federal level for many years on appeasing their biggest donors and singing the melancholy chorus on tort reform. For example, at the recent health care summit, Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, proclaimed the costs of malpractice insurance "the biggest cost driver."

This misinformed vernacular has further taken off in recent weeks. Take for example talking heads on cable news; it seemed to this observer that every Republican guest on these shows had “tort reform” as his or her basis for supposed health care reform. I highly encourage those politicians to actually go gather facts instead of relying on biased and special interest driven vernacular.

As a practical matter, healthcare reform should be designed to reform health care, not just protect insurance companies from doing what a jury says. It should afford greater and better healthcare for the citizens of this country and in the process help the medical profession in reimbursements as well as quality of care provided.

“Tort reform” does nothing to reform the health care system and instead simply allows “malpractice insurance companies” to usurp the will of a jury of one’s peers in favor of an artificial limit set by a politician who knows nothing about the intricacies of a case. On the outset, “tort reform” seems about the most unconservative government intrusion into injured individuals’ lives and an unwarranted legislative intrusion into the judicial branch of government.

I thought an opinion piece in the StatesmanJournal.com discussed this topic in great detail and is a very honest assessment of this sham argument by Republicans. The author stated in summation that

One irony of using malpractice insurance as the linchpin of an alternative health care reform proposal is that it not only fails to generate any big savings, but also that Republicans themselves have rejected it in the past. According to one news report, eight times before a Republican-led House has passed the $250,000 limit and each time it has failed in the Republican-led Senate.

When it comes to health care, capping damages for malpractice may be high on the agenda of some interests and some politicians, but tort reform does not equal health care reform.

Lastly, from one conservative to another, let’s quit this sham of lawyer bashing. Every profession has its share of individuals who do not uphold its high standards. Politicians surely can’t claim to be the moral compass on so called “character” and know full well the concept of “frivolousness” when it comes to some of the ridiculous bills passed by them. Nonetheless, whether Republicans seek to repel, modify and/or challenge this health care legislation through additional legislation and/or constitutionally, let’s come up with some viable meaningful alternatives rather than some misguided concept of limiting what a jury of one’s peers deems appropriate in a civil lawsuit. For this individual, I definitely do not think it’s appropriate for Nancy Pelosi and/or Jim Inhofe to tell a jury what they can award as damages unless they too are called to serve alongside eleven (11) other jurors.