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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:27 AM
Original message
Americans see malpractice awards less a problem than health care costs
January 11, 2005

Americans see malpractice awards less a problem than health care costs

WASHINGTON Most Americans want something to be done about the rising costs of health care and insurance before Congress takes on malpractice lawsuits.

Lowering the price of health care and insurance was the top priority named by respondents to a poll done by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health.

While saying malpractice reform is needed, those taking part didn't view it with the same sense of urgency as the White House has.

President Bush says the lawsuits are a big reason for rising medical bills. But more respondents listed high profits made by drug and insurance companies for the climbing costs.
(snip/...)

http://www.kfor.com/Global/story.asp?S=2793909
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AP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:29 AM
Response to Original message
1. Time to get some RW journalists on the WH payroll.
Edited on Tue Jan-11-05 10:30 AM by AP
There's work to be done convincing people not to trust their own eyes.
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durablend Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:41 AM
Response to Reply #1
10. Yeah, the populace is THINKING again
Can't have that now, can we?
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HuckleB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 11:01 AM
Response to Reply #10
23. But what happened to that populace in November?
:shrug:

Oh, my head hurts.
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tk2kewl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:33 AM
Response to Original message
2. gotta keep this kicked
:kick:

insurance ripoffs are the problem, not people suing when they are damaged by bad doctors
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amazona Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:33 AM
Response to Original message
3. well if you're permanently injured you NEED a big award
Stop and think about it. A friend of mine in her 30s sustained a serious back injury in an accident and can no longer work. For life. Her award in the low six figures -- with her attorney getting 30 percent mind you -- was supposed to pay all her medical bills AND sustain her for life. It is just not realistic. A cap of $250K is ridiculous for serious injuries that permanently disable someone.

If health care costs were more reasonable, you wouldn't need the huge awards so much. But, as it stands, people need these huge awards just to keep from destroying their families when they lose the ability to work.
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rkc3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:40 AM
Response to Reply #3
8. I believe the $250K cap is for punitive damages.
The way they want the law written is to punish firms/doctors based on loss of livelihood and cap punitive damages at $250K. Unfortunately, if you have low or no income you're screwed by the regulations.
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bunkerbuster1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-12-05 09:50 AM
Response to Reply #8
48. Gotta keep the door open for wealthy folks wot're harmed.
Very important--every reThug proposal to cap awards makes damn sure that the Ken Lays of this world could sue for future earnings.

Of course if it's merely a child who hasn't demonstrated that he/she will amount to a hill o' beans professionally, well, their life can never be worth more than 250K.

Someone explain to me that this isn't sick? Disgusting?
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area51 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 09:50 PM
Response to Reply #3
43. "If health care costs were more reasonable..."
amazona said:

"If health care costs were more reasonable, you wouldn't need the huge awards so much."

Good point. I'd also like to touch on a couple of points that I don't think have been addressed in this thread so far.

  • If we had a decent social safety net, this (needing to ensure enough money to live on) wouldn't be an issue.

  • Also, I think converting to some type of universal healthcare would also work to end this BS.



"Prosperity is just around the corner." -- Herbert Hoover
"The economy has turned a corner." -- GW Bush

Herbert Hoover = GW Bush

Neither man cared about the Depression their economic policies created.

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Armin Tamzarian Donating Member (14 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:35 AM
Response to Original message
4. Isn't there anyone besides me that thinks
The two are tied together?

Bogus malpractice awards (help ) equal high health care costs
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radric Donating Member (124 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:37 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. I agree with you..
Edited on Tue Jan-11-05 10:38 AM by radric
more likely a combination of all of them. Malpractice suits no doubt contribute to a rise in health care costs but I have a feeling that it's a lot less than Bush and the malpractice reformers would have you believe.
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LynnTheDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 01:31 PM
Response to Reply #6
34. It's less than 2% of total healthcare costs.
As Kerry & Edwards pointed out several times in the debates...LESS THAN TWO PERCENT.
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amazona Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:43 AM
Response to Reply #4
12. no such thing as bogus malpractice awards
In my state of Louisiana there are no punitive damages already. You have to show the actual economic costs of your injury, and you receive an award from a jury trial based on what you can prove. That award is then substantially knocked down by a judge who solicits campaign contributions from both attorneys, the plaintiffs, and the defendants.

Is it different in any other state?

Malpractice insurance is too high because insurance companies are thieves. Patients are not getting this money.


The conservation movement is a breeding ground of communists
and other subversives. We intend to clean them out,
even if it means rounding up every birdwatcher in the country.
--John Mitchell, US Attorney General 1969-72


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gratuitous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:44 AM
Response to Reply #4
13. How much, do you suppose?
According to studies I've seen, less than 2% of health care costs are attributable to lawsuit damages. Where do you suppose the other 98% of the cost coming from?

And, by the way, if you win a malpractice award, by definition, it wasn't "bogus." Unless of course, you believe that those poor doctors and their impoverished insurance carriers can't afford to hire a decent attorney.
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HuckleB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 11:07 AM
Response to Reply #13
24. Let's remember something.
Innocent people are convicted of crimes every day in this country. And people who have no actual case win lawsuits every day, as well.

I'm not for caps or any of the Bush nightmare, but let's not pretend that there aren't any baloney suits happening out there. That's not going to help. Our arguments must be based in reality.

Salud.
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gratuitous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 11:52 AM
Response to Reply #24
28. Uh huh
Let's see, insurance companies and their doctors have quite a bit of money to hire the best attorneys, retain the best and most experienced experts, and have the financial wherewithal to hire whole teams of investigators and surveillance snoops, and under the rules of discovery get a good look at the claimant's experts, records and theory of the case. They hire experts to comb through the jury pools, and find the folks most likely to rule in their favor and weed out the bleeding hearts who want to see a big corporation take the fall for crippling, maiming or killing the patient.

And they still lose at trial from time to time.

Then, they hire the best appellate guns to go over the trial transcript, ferreting out every close call from the trial and the legal reasons for why their client deserves a new trial, a mistrial or a reduction of the verdict or a total dismissal of the verdict.

And they still lose from time to time.

I'd sure like to see all these lawsuits where people who have no actual case win every day. It'd sure make my job a lot easier not to have to assemble evidence, hire experts, interview witnesses and pry records loose from the defendant and just have the verdicts roll in. Oh, did I mention that all the patient records are created, maintained and produced by the defendant? So, the plaintiff has to secure a verdict based on the defendant's own record of negligence.

I'll stand by my statement that any plaintiff who wins a verdict at trial has overcome some long odds, and has probably been grievously injured over an unsubstantiated statement that unnamed people in undetermined jurisdictions with "no actual case win lawsuits every day." It certainly doesn't happen in my quarter century of experience in the law business.
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HuckleB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 03:19 PM
Response to Reply #28
36. I've been privy to three of them, in my time.
You can believe what you want to believe, but it happens. Offer up your anecdotes all you want, but we can't run around knowing that guilty people are let go and that innocent people are declared guilty, but somehow, some way thinking that the plaintiff is always justified in every suit, especially since the bar is lower in lawsuits by comparison.
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gratuitous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 03:29 PM
Response to Reply #36
37. I don't "believe" based on anecdotal evidence
This is personal experience, based on actual occurrences over 25 years in the legal industry. I remain unimpressed by an anonymous poster with alleged personal knowledge of three unspecified matters.

I also never said a "plaintiff is always justified in every suit" -- that's your gloss on the matter. I expounded on the difficulties of bringing a lawsuit, getting the matter not just to the bar but to the jury, and the result that happens after the fair presentation of evidence by both sides as adjudicated by a judge and submission of the case to a jury.

Securing a trial verdict that stands up to post-trial motions and appeals is pretty good evidence in and of itself that the lawsuit was meritorious and the award just and reasonable. I haven't seen ANY verdicts that survive that process that were "bogus." I'd greatly appreciate just one case citation to support your position.
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HuckleB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 05:22 PM
Response to Reply #37
39. Umm. In other words, all you have is anecdotal evidence.
Why should I believe you? Certainly I've got little confidence in someone who claims to have so much experience but offers so little actual insight. Someone with the experience you claim should know that many cases that held up in court turned out to be quite questionable in time. And we'll never really know about any number of the others that were never re-looked into.

Yes, I have three cases that I had access to all of the information, and know how ridiculous the outcomes were. I've been privy to many more where I am quite suspicious of the outcomes, and others where the outcomes were quite clear. I know the law doesn't always work. Too bad that you haven't figured that out yet. That's quite scary to me, especially if your experience is what you claim it to be. Please, you are holding on tight to a belief system that doesn't pass muster. I mean, if all the lawyers and courts of this country are so perfect, why isn't the medical system, too? Oh, it's just the law that's perfect?! I get it.

:eyes:
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gratuitous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 05:47 PM
Response to Reply #39
40. Please read my posts
I did not say the legal system or that "all the laywers and courts of this country are . . . perfect." Once again, you are confusing something you've made up out of whole cloth with what I've written. I'm not sure why you persist in doing that. But for your edification, here are a couple of citations to cases that I am personally acquainted with, and where the repressive right likes to caricature jury outcomes as "ridiculous." As the old professor Casey Stengel was wont to say, you could look 'em up:

Woodbury v. CH2M Hill, Multnomah County Circuit Court case number 9706-04494, 173 Or App 171, 21 P3d 153 (2001).

Or:

Williams v. Philip Morris, Inc., 182 Or App 44, 48 P3d 824, adh'd to on recons, 183 Or App 192, 51 P3d 670, rev den, 335 Or 142 (2002).

Do you have similar citations to your three cases? Or are they also straw-man fabrications of your own devising for the purpose of sustaining your unsupported argument?
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HuckleB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 11:00 PM
Response to Reply #40
44. Thanks for the anecdotes. How very helpful.
:eyes:

I find it hilarious that you would try to say that I'm the one who made up something "whole cloth" out of nothing. Reread your own posts. It's time for you to get a mirror. You tried to make across the board claims that are simply not a part of the real world. Why persist with this little game of yours?

I know I'm done bothering with someone who refuses to discuss with honesty and integrity, even if it may simply be an issue of fooling himself.

Sheesh.
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w4rma Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 11:14 PM
Response to Reply #44
46. HuckleB, why do you keep reverting to personal attacks instead of
Edited on Tue Jan-11-05 11:15 PM by w4rma
responding directly to the posts?

:eyes:
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gratuitous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-12-05 09:46 AM
Response to Reply #46
47. I've concluded
It's because he doesn't have case citations, only his chimerical "three cases" which apparently are his sole basis for completely junking the current legal system. However, without case citations, or indeed without any description of those cases whatsoever, it's impossible to determine if his position has any merit.

Having asked three times for some identification of his three cases, and not receiving even the poor courtesy of a fact set recitation, I must conclude that his position is based on emotion and not fact. This is buttressed for me by his persistent mischaracterizations of my position in order for him to construct straw men that he can then knock down.

However, without a more thorough discussion (which will not be happening any time soon, as far as I'm concerned), I am unable to discern whether he's a fool or a knave, and leave that determination to each individual DUer.
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Mojorabbit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 12:10 PM
Response to Reply #13
31. This isn't true
The insurance company decides whether to settle or not. The doctor has no say in the matter. If it is under a certain amt they will settle to avoid court. This results in bad marks on a physician's record.
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Bridget Burke Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:49 AM
Response to Reply #4
18. Yes---most Republicans do!
Do you have a good source for how many malpractice awards are actually bogus? I know that award limits won in Texas--malpractice insurance went up 19% within 6 months.

Health care keeps getting more expensive for those of us with insurance. And downright unavailable for those without....

There is a "tie" between malpractice & health care costs--the insurance companies.
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HuckleB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 11:00 AM
Response to Reply #4
22. Not really.
It is true that some cases (some of them indeed bogus, as the plaintiffs left AMA, among other things, and never should have been able to sue) have led to decreased availability of care in some areas. But that was still just the end game. Much could have been done and should have been done prior to the situation becoming so tentative that one lawsuit would drive out entire practices from rural areas. It wasn't done, and no one is looking at doing those things now. (See post 21 for more vagaries. I gotta go now.)
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 12:06 PM
Response to Reply #4
30. "Bogus malpractice awards"??? MYTH!
There ain't no such thing. Fewer than 10% of the victims of malpractice even file suit of any kind.

Reliable estimates say that around 200,000 people die in hospitals every year due to avoidable errors in care and treatment.
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high density Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 12:27 PM
Response to Reply #4
32. Let's stop with the corporate welfare
Limiting their liability is just more corporate welfare in (not so good) disguise.
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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 04:12 PM
Response to Reply #4
38. You ARE aware, aren't you, that the "malpractice insurance" firms
Edited on Tue Jan-11-05 04:13 PM by SoCalDem
are OWNED by physician consortiums?...

This is the same scam argument as :

death tax
junk science
social security "reform"
"It's YOUR MONEY" tax reforms
oldsters' RX card
etc etc

Smoke & mirrors..that's all it is..

Contingency law suits PREVENT frivolous lawsuits. No lawyer worth his salt would even bother with a marginal lawsuit that was not worth litigating. Another thing that no one ever mentions is this:

Headlines scream "88 MILLION AWARDED in LANDMARK LAWSUIT"...but behind the scenes, the amount is whittled away, and appealed and appealed and appealed, so that by the time (often many years later) the actual "checks are written", the amount is far less, and it's rarely even reported on. In fact, sometimes it's part of the settlement.."non-disclosure".. BUT the original award was broadcast loudly and often at the original award. Often, the patient is DEAD before the case is finally resolved..

What would stop MOST of these suits??

DOCTORS TESTIFYINGS AGAINST DANGEROUS DOCTORS.
Bad doctors having their licenses revoked..IN EVERY STATE
Knocking down the "good ole boy" network of silence that allows these bad ones to contnue hurting patients.

Another thing to consider.. If the truly bad ones were booted out, the insurance rates would drop as well.. If a doctor had charges against him, you BET his rates will increase.. If you have 5 car wrecks in a year, do you think your auto insurance will stay low??

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BlueJazz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:35 AM
Response to Original message
5. When I worked for Kodak, folks would get in discussions....
...about malpractice awards and the rising cost of health care.
Naturally there would be a few individuals who would make some asinine comment like "If we got malpractice awards under control, Health Care costs would come down".
At first I would explain to these folks why that's not true (from past experiance)...but eventually I just started saying:
"What planet are you from?...Insurance Companies are not the Good Guys".
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JerseygirlCT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:38 AM
Response to Original message
7. And they'd be absolutely right
But Bush as usual wants to distract attention from the problem and use that distraction to take down a group of people who have insulted HRH -- trial lawyers.

The best way to decrease medical malpractice suits is to decrease the incidence of medical malpractice. Doctors simply must do a far better job policing their own than they've been willing to do.

The healthcare situation in this country will only get worse, and it's not due to malpractice suits. It's due to corporate greed, plain and simple. Too much bureaucracy, too many layers, too little concern for prevention, and too much money to be made at the top of the food chain.
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BlueJazz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:49 AM
Response to Reply #7
17. You're right...Absolutely. ...It's not :Broken: It's way past that.
Being a Computer Engineer, I often relate that the Health Care system reminds me of customers who bring me an old Packard Bell with a 486 processor, 16 meg of ram and a 1.2 hard disk running windows 3.1 and asking me to "Upgrade" it.
My answer is "Sir, there is no upgrade except putting the computer on the front lawn for the trash men and driving to CompUsa". :)

The same goes for health care..we need to throw the entire mess out and completely start over...
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JerseygirlCT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 09:04 PM
Response to Reply #17
41. Aw shucks... you mean I have to throw the old girl out?
That stinker came in handy a couple of times when this one died.

But I take your point!
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lawladyprof Donating Member (628 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:40 AM
Response to Original message
9. Pity many of them didn't vote that way Nov. 2
N/T
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depakid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:42 AM
Response to Original message
11. Since medical malpractice suits have almost nothing to do with
health care costs- or the price of insurance, someone needs to educate the 60% of CLUELESS AMERICANS that all they are doing is endangering their own health and everyone elses with their ignorance.

Unfortunately, channel 4 isn't about to do that- although they will undoubtedly tell you who's been shot, what burned down and what the weather is going to be every quarter hour.
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Wright Patman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:45 AM
Response to Original message
14. This was just an exit poll
The touchscreens all have the public wanting medical malpractice claims eliminated. Furthermore, they want trial lawyers deported to France.
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HuckleB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 11:07 AM
Response to Reply #14
25. LOL!
:hi:
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johncoby2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:47 AM
Response to Original message
15. Texas HAS CAPS! And it didn't work!!!!
Here in Texas we changed our constitution to limit malpractice awards to $250,000 with promises of lowering our medical malpractice insurance and lowering our medical insurance.

It didnt work. Many doctors paying $90,000 a year on malpractice insurance got a 10% reduction. Now they are paying $81,000 a year. Not exactly what they expected. Then the same insurance companies began increasing them again!!!!

But, we the people of Texas are just plain stupid. The insurance industry supported wide sweeping tort reform and insurance reform last legislation session. And what did we get? Higher rates and less coverage. Our rated DOUBLED!

Then the same people asked us to support medical malpractice limits with the same promises.

And we bought it again. Stupid Texans.
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Bridget Burke Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:53 AM
Response to Reply #15
20. Even the "stupid" Texans might have voted against the last ....
"limit" proposal--if it had been on the ballot for the General Election.

But a special election was called, with the resulting low turnout.
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johncoby2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 11:09 AM
Response to Reply #20
26. History of tort reform in Texas
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KansDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:47 AM
Response to Original message
16. Bush is a hypocrite. He "trusts" the people (his Campaign2000 slogan)
until they get on a jury. Then he feels a need to restrict their judgment.
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Demit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:49 AM
Response to Original message
19. Insurance companies have post record-breaking profits for what? 3 years
running? Malpractice awards contribute to less than 2% of healthcare costs. The companies would not be so swimming in dough if malpractice suits were such a problem.

This is another Bush cartel phony issue. They want businesses to keep more money for themselves; to be less and less accountable for their actions; and at the same time strip away another one of the little guys' rights--in this case, the right to redress. Taking power away from the people, and gathering it to themselves. The oligarchs and the totalitarian state.
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HuckleB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:56 AM
Response to Original message
21. Hmm.
It's great that folks can see throught the baloney about malpractice caps. And it's even better that they recognize that the profit focus of insurance companies (and, yes, to a lesser extent, of drug companies) are far bigger reasons for the increasing costs in health care. But the picture doesn't end there, and the solution can't stop there.

One part of the solution still falls into the laps of health care providers, however. They must develop improved ways to police themselves and rehabilitate or drive out incompetent and careless providers. This would do far more to decrease the money that goes to lawsuits than any cap every could. Further, it's the only way to bring practice back in line with a true best practices focus, rather than a focus based on fear of lawsuits, where providers don't share all the information they have and do unnecessary procedures and tests only to protect themselves from lawsuits. These types of fear-based medical practices are another reason for the increased costs of health care. And the story goes on and on and on.

It's not a simple problem, and there are no simple answers. It seems the American people have a much better grasp of this than Bush.
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rodeodance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 11:14 AM
Response to Reply #21
27. seems like the people are right on! -now to get the repugs to listen!!
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reprobate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 11:59 AM
Response to Original message
29.  Malpractice premiums have NOTHING to do with malpractice awards

The industry makes it's profits not from the premiums, but from the investments they make with premiums.

When interest rates are high they make big profits but the premiums seldom go down. When rates are low profit slips and they try to make it up in premium increases.

This same thing happened in the 80s when interest rates were down.

Remember the operative principle of american business. Never believe anything you are told by a corporation.

Remember Bhopal.
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bagnana Donating Member (858 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 09:45 PM
Response to Reply #29
42. SO TRUE!
No one seems to understand this: insurance companies are HUGE institutional investors. When the stock market goes up they make their money. Jesus they are so damn greedy. It's not enough to take and take and take. They never want to pay any claims.

So when the market goes down insurance companies complain they need to raise premiums. Yet, when the market goes up, do insurance companies lower their premiums? Hell no. They leave them the same and rake in more dough than ever. Disgusting, greedy, evil bastards.
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HuckleB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 11:02 PM
Response to Reply #29
45. Everything you write is true.
However, one big lawsuit can send premiums sky high for entire practices, regardless of actual safety concerns.
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LynnTheDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 01:26 PM
Response to Original message
33. Malpractise costs LESS THAN TWO PERCENT -2%- of medical costs.
Edited on Tue Jan-11-05 01:28 PM by LynnTheDem
Sorry bush but obviously too many Americans still know what "LESS THAN TWO PERCENT OF COSTS" means...and that it DOESN'T mean "crisis" and "urgent" and "danger danger danger!".

Lying MFing asshole.
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mike_c Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 01:44 PM
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35. kicked and nominated for the front page....
eom
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