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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Curing Health Care with Tort Reform

By Keith R. Schmitz

Some in the heath care reform debate offer up two supercures to our dysfunctional system -- (1) allowing health insurance companies to sell their products across state lines and (2) tort reform. And so, presto chango, problem solved. We are not outspending our international competitors and life is grand.

Let's talk about the latter.

Never mind that malpractice costs represent a small portion of our overall $2.3 trillion pile of costs.

Here's what I'm wondering about.

Is what we are saying here is that all malpractice suits would be eliminated? Of course not. It is certain that a number of members of the GOP have in fact sued for damages relating to medical care.

So if we don't eliminate all malpractice suits, what's an acceptable number? 25%? 50%?

It has been argued that malpractice suits weed out bad doctors, but a CBO study found that is fact individual doctors are insulated from the effects of their ineptitude.

In fact the study also found that limiting suits would have a negligible affect on health care costs.

So when the GOP comes to discuss health care with the President later on in the month, if they have the guts, one could hope they are packing reality and not slogans.

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