31 August 2009

Universal Health Care for Malpractice Reform

Bill Bradley talks some sense, echoing my thoughts from two weeks ago. (I am so prescient I can't stand it!)

Op-Ed Contributor - Tax Reform’s Lesson for Health Care Reform - NYTimes.com
I believe such a grand bipartisan compromise is still possible with health care.

Since the days of Harry Truman, Democrats have wanted universal health coverage, believing that if other industrialized countries can achieve it, surely the United States can. For Democrats, universal coverage speaks to America’s sense of decency and compassion. Democrats also believe that it will lead to a healthier and more productive country.

Since the days of Ronald Reagan, Republicans have wanted legal reform, believing that our economic competitiveness is being shackled by the billions we spend annually on tort costs; an estimated 10 cents of every health care dollar paid by individuals and companies goes for litigation and defensive medicine. For Republicans, tort reform and its health care analogue, malpractice reform, speak to the goal of stronger economic growth and lower costs.

The bipartisan trade-off in a viable health care bill is obvious: Combine universal coverage with malpractice tort reform in health care.

Universal coverage can be obtained in many ways — including the so-called public option. Malpractice tort reform can be something as commonsensical as the establishment of medical courts — similar to bankruptcy or admiralty courts — with special judges to make determinations in cases brought by parties claiming injury. Such a bipartisan outcome would lower health care costs, reduce errors (doctors and nurses often don’t report errors for fear of being sued) and guarantee all Americans adequate health care.
I'm not optimistic, for the reason Ezra points out: the GOP has made opposition to reform their strategy.  Were the democrats to offer them such a deal, which they have hinted at, it would be moot since it appears that vitriolic opposition (in the setting of shameful demagoguery) is viewed as the path back to power in 2010 for the GOP.   A "deal" presupposes that there are two parties that want a deal, and that does not seem to be the case at this time.  Pity, since I think malpractice reform plus health care reform would actually result in a better outcome than the Dems' going it alone.

Now I guess we'll get to see whether the Democrats possess sufficient parliamentary and political acumen to shepherd a bill through strictly along partisan lines.  History does not teach me to be optimistic on this point either.


  1. "Now I guess we'll get to see whether the Democrats possess sufficient ... (BALLS) to ... (vote themselves out of office). History does not teach me to be optimistic on this point either."


  2. I would think that most republicans would vote for universal catastrophic coverage if they could get real tort reform. Especially if this is accomplished without a public option. The bigger problem, in my opinion, would be the democrats accepting any meaningful tort reform. They have shown no backbone against one of their most generous constituents.

  3. We have it from Howard Dean on video that the only reason we don't have med mal reform is the Dem's don't want to take on the trial lawyers.

    I totally agree with Bainbrige on this on. The Dem's are coming off as wiling to ration care but unwilling to say "no" to one of their most important financial donor constituencies.

  4. Actually, more and more conservatives are beginning to speak out against so-called malpractice "reform. Why? Because it's decidedly anti-conservative. http://tinyurl.com/qbc62m


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