The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Push Back

Over the past few weeks, I posted a number of pieces on health care legislation. In each, I’ve tried to emphasize the utter irresponsibility of recommending (in the case of Congress) or supporting (in the case of the President) a health care bill that the Congress’ own CBO says will INCREASE health care costs by close to a trillion dollars over 10 years. And that’s after instituting a “tax the rich” fantasy (for Nancy Pelosi, at least) in a phony effort to pay for it, even though increasing taxes in the heart of a serious recession is folly.

Our president tries to blame the minority party for his problems with health care, but it’s his own party that is balking at this craziness. Maybe that’s because very little real reform (something we undoubtedly need) exists in the legislation so far.

Charles Krauthammer (an ex-physician) comments on one crucial element of any meaningful reform. An element that is mysteriously absent from the discussion, much less the legislation:
This is not about politics? Then why is it, to take but the most egregious example, that in this grand health care debate we hear not a word about one of the worst sources of waste in American medicine: the insane cost and arbitrary rewards of our malpractice system?

When a neurosurgeon pays $200,000 a year for malpractice insurance before he even turns on the light in his office or hires his first nurse, who do you think pays? Patients, in higher doctor fees to cover the insurance.

And with jackpot justice that awards one claimant zillions while others get nothing -- and one-third of everything goes to the lawyers -- where do you think that money comes from? The insurance companies, who then pass it on to you in higher premiums.
But the greatest waste is the hidden cost of defensive medicine: tests and procedures that doctors order for no good reason other than to protect themselves from lawsuit. Every doctor knows, as I did when I practiced years ago, how much unnecessary medical cost is incurred with an eye not on medicine but on the law.

Tort reform would yield tens of billions in savings. Yet you cannot find it in the Democratic bills. And Obama breathed not a word about it in the full hour of his health care news conference. Why? No mystery. The Democrats are parasitically dependent on huge donations from trial lawyers.

When the president and the majority party get serious about true, targeted reform, I suspect the country (and yours truly) will support their efforts. But when they insist on fantasy legislation and empty promises of cost cutting, and couple that will higher taxes and no meaningful reform, I and tens of millions of others in the center will push back—hard.