Dems: You can have tort reform …
posted at 9:40 am on October 31, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
Remember how concerned Democrats have been during the health-care system overhaul debate at eliminating unnecessary costs? They had an opportunity to save $54 billion over the next ten years from the deficit by enacting tort-reform laws that removes the financial incentive from defensive medicine and protects providers through common-sense limitations on damages, such as those already in place in California and a handful of other states. Jen Rubin at Commentary notices that Nancy Pelosi’s bill does actually allow for tort reform on pages 1431-1433 of the 1990-page behemoth, but only under a curious restriction:
Remember Obama’s effort to try a “test” for tort reform? (We don’t actually need a test, since it has worked to lower medical malpractice coverage and help increase access to doctors in states that have tried it.) Well, Pelosi’s bill has an anti-tort-reform measure. On pages 1431-1433 of the 1990 spellbinder, there is a financial incentive for states to try “alternative medical liability laws.” But look — you don’t get the incentive if you have a law that would “limit attorneys’ fees or impose caps on damages.”
(4) CONTENTS OF ALTERNATIVE MEDICAL LIABILITY LAW. – The contents of an alternative liability law are in accordance with this paragraph if –
(A) the litigation alternatives contined in the law consist of certificate of merit, early offer, or both; and
(B) the law does not limit attorneys’ fees or impose caps on damages.
Let’s by all means have the kind of tort “reform” that does nothing to limit damages or curtail attorneys’ fees. What kind of “reform” would that entail? Well, it basically means that the trial lawyers get to write the tort-“reform” laws … which means that we’ll be lucky to keep the status quo, let alone save $54 billion off of the deficit, according to the CBO.
No one should be the least bit surprised that the same Democratic Party that takes in over 80% of political donations from trial lawyers has attempted to kneecap tort-reform pilot programs in ObamaCare. It’s about as surprising as Barack Obama putting Kathleen Sebelius in charge of these pilot programs in the first place — the same Kathleen Sebelius who represented trial lawyers in their lobbying group before becoming governor of Kansas. Maybe they should just call themselves the Ambulance Chasers Party and be done with it.