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									GOP Fights With Itself Over Medical Malpractice Reform - Rick Ungar - The Policy Pag... Page 1 of 4

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                                    Rick Ungar
                                    THE POLICY PAGE
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   GOP Fights With Itself Over                                                                     19
   Medical Malpractice Reform                                                                       Share

   Feb.   10 2011 - 6:19 pm |   538 views | 1 recommendation | 10 comments
                                                                 Much has been
                                                                                                                  MY ACTIVITY FEED
                                                                 made about the
                                                                 miracle cure for                                 Show all activity
                                                                 what ails our health          submit                RICK COMMENTED


                                                                 care reform system                                  “While it probably won't surprise you that I
                                                                 – controlling                                       disagree with much of your explanatory
                                                                                                                     paragraphs, I have to say that...”
                                                                                                    2                Posted to FEDERAL JUDGE: OBAMACARE ALLOWS
                                                                 malpractice                                         CONGRESS TO REGULATE "MENTAL ACTIVITY"

                                                                 lawsuits.                                           RICK COMMENTED                           Yesterday

                                                                                                                     “Interesting idea. I have to admit that would
                                              Despite the fact                                                       have been pretty cool-but never was going to
   that only 2% of the money spent in health care can be traced                                    16                happen if he wanted...”
   to malpractice claims, conservatives have long argued that if                                                     Posted to OBAMA BREAKS PLEDGE TO WEAR OUT SOME
                                                                                                                     SHOE LEATHER IN SUPPORT OF COLLECTIVE
   we could only do away with – or place severe caps on-                                                             BARGAINING

   malpractice claims, a major step towards bringing down the                                                        RICK CALLED OUT                          Yesterday

   high cost of care could be achieved.                                                                                      iamraging

   While getting phony lawsuits out of the system is beneficial on many                                              Commented on OBAMA BREAKS PLEDGE TO WEAR OUT
                                                                                                                     SOME SHOE LEATHER IN SUPPORT OF COLLECTIVE
   levels, the political rallying cry has long been more shtick than stick. This                                     BARGAINING

                                                                                                                     “Understood. And I think we had this
   is due to the fact that 33 states have already placed severe restrictions on                                      conversation over at T/S. But I still think
   what can be won in the pain and suffering damages that represent the ‘                                            that keeping this promise would...”
   big money’ in medical malpractice.
                                                                                                                     RICK CALLED OUT                          Yesterday

   Nevertheless, in one more effort to prove to their base that GOP control                                                  iamraging

   of the House is going to pay dividends, a bill currently before the House                                         Commented on OBAMA BREAKS PLEDGE TO WEAR OUT
                                                                                                                     SOME SHOE LEATHER IN SUPPORT OF COLLECTIVE

http://blogs.forbes.com/rickungar/2011/02/10/gop-fights-with-itself-over-medical-malpract... 2/25/2011
GOP Fights With Itself Over Medical Malpractice Reform - Rick Ungar - The Policy Pag... Page 2 of 4

   Judiciary Committee would federalize the problem, placing a cap of                   “I forgot to add: Don't include me in the
                                                                                        "We" who knows the president supports the
   $250,000 on all pain and suffering damages in every state in the nation.             unions. I haven't...”

   Surprisingly, the bill has run into some flack from some unexpected                  RICK COMMENTED                           Yesterday
   sources – two staunchly conservative congressmen from the great state of             “I disagree on your first point regarding the

   Republican Reps. Ted Poe and Louie Gohmert are concerned that the
   proposed federal law will override the limits already placed on medical         MOST POPULAR
   malpractice claims in their home state. They additionally object to the          MY POSTS      All Posts Last 24 Hours

   federal government stepping on the states’ right to decide these issues for                                              212,621 views
                                                                                   1.   Koch Brothers Behind
   themselves.                                                                          Wisconsin Effort To Kill
                                                                                        Public Unions
   According to Rep. Poe, “If the people of a particular state don’t want                                                   164,320 views
                                                                                   2.   Congress Passes Socialized
   liability caps, that’s their prerogative under the 10th Amendment. I                 Medicine and Mandates
   firmly support malpractice reform as we have in Texas, but I have                    Health Insurance -In 1798
   concerns with the current bill as written.                                      3.   More Small Businesses               70,636 views

                                                                                        Offering Health Care To
   Give these men credit for being consistent if somewhat blind to the true             Employees Thanks To
   nature of the problem.
                                                                                   4.   Why The GOP Will Never              33,647 views

   The remaining GOP members on the committee have somehow failed to                    Cut The Size Of Government
   grasp the irony of their supporting this bill at the same time they are         5.   Live Blog: Latest Election          26,340 views

   pursuing the narrative of the federal government stepping all over states’           Results

   rights when it comes to the all the other health care issues addressed by
   the PPACA.
                                                                                   ABOUT ME
   Still, I wish Congressmen Poe and Gohmert would shine some light on             I am an attorney in Southern California, and a
   the real flaws in the proposed legislation.                                     frequent writer, speaker and consultant on health care
                                                                                   policy and politics. To that end, I am active member of
   While the bill focuses on limiting legal actions, capping pain & suffering      the Association of Health Care Journalists. Based in
                                                                                   beautiful Santa Monica, California, I'm very pleased to
   awards and specifically limiting what attorneys can be paid when
                                                                                   have the opportunity to be a contributor to Forbes.
   representing plaintiffs in medical malpractice actions, the legislation fails   I've recently finished a book designed to make the
   to address the fact that capping awards without putting similar restrains       health care debate understandable to the average
                                                                                   reader, and expect it to be out in the next five months
   on the ever rising cost of premiums paid by health care providers to
                                                                                   or earlier.
   medical malpractice insurance companies will not get the job done.              See my profile »

   Gohmert and Poe should know this better than most.
                                                                                   Followers:              139
   When their home state of Texas was considering capping the amount of            Contributor
                                                                                                           September 2010
   pain and suffering damages available to plaintiffs in medical malpractice
                                                                                   Location:               Santa Monica
   cases, the malpractice insurance industry made a big push in support of
   the legislation. They went so far as to go on record with the Texas                  MY PROFILE                    MY RSS FEED
   Insurance Commissioner, promising that such a law would go a long way
                                                                                        MY HEADLINE GRABS             EMAIL ME TIPS
   towards reducing the malpractice premiums they charged physicians,
   thereby reducing the cost of medical care to the consumer.

   Texas did pass the legislation limiting what could be awarded in these

   Nine months later, the largest malpractice carrier in the state was before
   the Insurance Commissioner seeking a rate increase.

   This is not to say there is no room for real improvement in how we deal
   with specious medical malpractice claims. A recent study by the Harvard
   School of Public Health reveals that 3% of the claims they reviewed
   lacked evidence of any patient injury while 37% of the claims showed no
   error on the part of the medical provider.

   Clearly, there needs to be a system put in place to weed out the nonsense
   claims from those where there is a true issue requiring judicial attention.
   Unfortunately, the bill under consideration in Congress does more to
   punish those with a valid claim than it does to rid the system of these

http://blogs.forbes.com/rickungar/2011/02/10/gop-fights-with-itself-over-medical-malpract... 2/25/2011
GOP Fights With Itself Over Medical Malpractice Reform - Rick Ungar - The Policy Pag... Page 3 of 4

   nuisance lawsuits that add costs to health care while creating a logjam in
   our court system.                                                                                  Medical Malpractice Case? www.InjuryHelpLineAttorney.com
                                                                                                      Understand Your Legal Rights. Speak to an
   Congressmen Gohmert and Poe should exhort their fellow Republicans to                              Injury Attorney Now.
   consider a solution that would punish those who would abuse the system                             Medical Malpractice Claim MedicalMalpracticeClaim.net
   rather than those who need to avail themselves of justice. To that end,                            Free Online Case Review for Medical
   many – including myself- advocate the creation of state based medical                              Malpractice Victims. Get help now.
   committees charged with the responsibility of reviewing all the evidence                           State of Texas Can Help OwnYourFutureTexas.org
   in a malpractice claim before it ever gets to a court proceeding. These                            Plan for costly long-term care. Get all the tools
                                                                                                      you need.
   councils should additionally have the authority to assess penalties on
   those who present cases that clearly have no validity.                                             Malpractice Attorney www.medmals.com
                                                                                                      Texas & Oklahoma. (888) medmals Medical
                                                                                                      Doctor on Staff
   By making certification of a case by medical experts a prerequisite to
   going forward with actual litigation, coupled with the risk of a significant
   penalty assessment on those who attempt to game the medical
   profession, we can end both the financial and administrative pressure
   placed on the system while protecting those who deserve to have their
   legitimate claim of injury compensated.

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          3:34 am on 02/11/11


         The eventual size of average size of awards is actually higher in other
         countries such as the UK and Canada, but the number of claims in the US is
         higher (4 x Canada). But spend per head was $16 in the US and $12 in the
         UK in 2001, so not a huge difference.

         See http://www.tinyurl.com/62boufw

         The point is made though that the fear of legal action drives up defensive
         medicine costs, but this is very difficult to calculate, and even so a study
         published in Health Affairs put the cost of malpractice litigation and
         defensive medicine combined at $55.6 billion annually in 2008 dollars, or
         2.4% of total healthcare spending.

         The spend on overtreatment in the US is much more driven by other factors.
         Log in to Reply

http://blogs.forbes.com/rickungar/2011/02/10/gop-fights-with-itself-over-medical-malpract... 2/25/2011
GOP Fights With Itself Over Medical Malpractice Reform - Rick Ungar - The Policy Pag... Page 4 of 4

       10:21 am on 02/11/11
                  RICK UNGAR
                  The Policy Page

      Right. What’s more the entire argument about this kind of law helping with
      defensive medicine is nonsense. We’ve had caps on malpractice awards for
      years in California. Doctors have not reduced the number of tests they do for
      a great many reasons- not the least of which is they still feel the need to
      practice defensively. While the size of the award may be lower (which affects
      the insurance company – not the doctor) they still do not wish to get sued.
      More on that in a piece today.
      In response to another
      comment. See in context »
      Log in to Reply                                                       Flag for abuse

       10:48 am on 02/11/11


      This is one of the rare issues where I’m equally frustrated with both
      Republicans and Democrats. I’m frustrated with Republicans for insisting
      that malpractice (along with the boogeyman “waste and fraud”) is THE driver
      of our spiraling medical costs. The ignorance of Fox News viewers on the
      subject is frightening, and it’s keeping half our population from seeking real
      solutions to the actual problems.

      But I’m equally frustrated with Democrats and their reliance on trial lawyers
      as their main high-money donor constituency. This keeps a lot of Democratic
      politicians from supporting even the most basic, common-sense reforms, like
      your medical expert certification of all cases. The hope of the trial lawyers is
      that if they can get enough sympathetic laypeople who are ignorant of
      medical science, they (oh, yeah, and their clients) can hit the jackpot with
      even dubious cases.

      This gives the Republican side just enough anecdotal evidence and
      ammunition to convince a lot of voters that tort reform will solve all our

      When Obama caved on tax cuts for the rich, it cut the legs out from under
      the opposition and got him a lot of what he really wanted. This is another
      issue where I think the country would benefit from Democrats caving. As
      long as Republicans can wave ridiculous and unjustifiable jury awards in
      front of the voters, a large number of those voters will refuse to look at any
      other issues.
      Log in to Reply                                                       Flag for abuse

       12:38 pm on 02/11/11
                  RICK UNGAR
                  The Policy Page

      The ship has already sailed for medical malpractice lawyers as caps have
      already been put in place in 33 states. Here in California, it is incredibly hard
      to find a medical malpractice lawyer. The problem is that it can easily cost
      $100k or more to pursue this type of case. With caps of $250k, it is
      extremely difficult for a lawyer not to loose money. This does keep down the
      number of cases, however it also makes it really hard on people who have a
      legitimate claim to pursue their rights. It really is not the best way to
      I’m going to be writing a post shortly showing how the approach taken in the
      House simply doesn’t work to bring down the costs that come from doctors
      forced to practice defensive medicine. All it really does is limit the exposure
      of the the malpractice companies and reduce the amount they can be forced
      to pay out when one of their insureds does commit malpractice.
      In response to another
      comment. See in context »
      Log in to Reply                                                       Flag for abuse

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