If I were a progessive . . .



Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

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11 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak says:

    The Big O said a few months ago he was open to some form of tort reform. Tort reform has been a great target for the right since they get to blame a popular scapegoat (lawyers) although i haven’t seen any evidence that lawsuits are a major cause of the expensive nature of our health care system. Of course R’s and Con’s tend to only hate lawyers when it isn’t their lawsuit, but that is generalization.

    In the end , however, this is a potent symbol of how D’s are doing things R’s should want and love, yet i don’t think this will garner one R vote or calm down the nutbag parade. I also don’t expect the MSM to lead with stories about how a D is doing something R’s want and therefore the D’s are playing all nice and bipartisan while the R’s are full of it.Report

  2. Avatar ChrisWWW says:

    What greginak said.

    I would be somewhat excited about this if Chuck Grassley or Olympia Snowe had written that op-ed and not a retired Democrat. But the truth is actual Republicans aren’t looking for compromise or a way to enact better policy, they are looking to deny Democrats, and Barack Obama in particular, any and all legislative victories no matter the cost.

    As for tort reform itself, I think you’re right Will. We should be wary of any attempt to diminish an aggrieved patient’s day in court in favor of large hospitals and rich doctors. We should be especially wary of attempts to put hard caps on compensation for malpractice. If you or I were crippled for life because of a botched surgery, I don’t think we’d be too happy if the government limited our compensation to say $100,000.Report

  3. Avatar Bob says:

    From a philosophical point of view, what is remotely conservative/libertarian about government interfering with long established rules and intuitions set up to deal with medical malpractice?

    After all, aren’t trial lawyers a market force, bow your heads and say Amen, just as much as the next business man?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      I’m pretty sure that the official libertarian line is something akin to “it’s fine when they want to practice law, it’s not fine when they want to game the legislative system.”

      And, of course, we all know that there’s no way to tell the difference between the two.Report

      • One important thing to note, though. The types of damages we’re usually talking about when we’re talking about tort reform are usually creatures of the common law, not statute. Punitive damages are another story.Report

  4. Avatar Andy says:

    Sorry if this is a gramatical nitpick, but shouldn’t the title of the post have been “If I were a progressive . . . “, which is a good example of the rarely used subjunctive tense in English, the tense used to express doubt, uncertainty, or a certain whimsicalness. If speak or have studied Spanish or other romance languages, you’ll know what I’m talking about.Report

  5. Avatar Freddie says:

    With tort reform, it’s all about the details. Is it going to be a smart, fair tort reform? Or is it going to be a sop to the insurance, medical and pharmaceutical industries? Real positive reform would both limit the amount of frivolous or rapacious lawsuits but protect the ability of people who have been genuinely wronged to sue. A likelier outcome, I’m sorry to say, would merely limit the liability of large corporations and make the already expensive, tedious and emotionally draining process of suing a well-moneyed entity, whether an individual or a business.Report

  6. Avatar zic says:

    If you were a progressive, you’d already know that medical law suits are a pretty insignificant problem compared to the other costs involved in the health-care system.Report

  7. Avatar Nick says:

    I’m a pretty strong supporter of the public option (click on my name to see website proof) and I think it’d be great to see some tort reform included in a bill — not hard limits on renumeration, but limits on punitive damages, emotional suffering, etc. Every patient has the right to treatment and lost wages when someone injures them, but I have seen damages awarded by juries where the actual dollar numbers seemed more like a vote of emotional support rather than an attempt to find strict justice, and that money comes out of the malpractice insurance system as a whole more often than it punishes individuals.

    Unfortunately, all the numbers I see seem to indicate that the effect of Texas-style or even sweeping New Zealand-style tort reform would be a one-time decrease of between 2% and 7% (because malpractice award growth is basically flat, unlike other kinds of health costs). So it’s vanishingly unimportant next to the large, systemic effect a public option and other reforms could have — after all, we’re getting double-digit health care price increases every year in the status quo.

    TLDR: I’m with zic and Freddie, and intrigued but not quite following what Mark has to say about common law and statute.Report